Inspired by mainstream media’s efforts (this, this, this , this and this, for example) in declaring winners and losers of the past federal budget, I spent some time to do the same for our proposed FY2011Y city budget.
The principle I used in producing the winners / losers list is the same used by these media outlets: (a) Winners are those who will be receiving more or same funding despite some residents’ view that they could receive less (b) Losers are those who will be receiving less or same funding despite some think that they could receive more.
Though my main source of this list is the city’s budget document as posted on its website, I’ve contacted several city officials in getting more clarifications of this document. The most help I’ve received is from City’s Director of Finance Stephen Groh. I’d like to thank Steve, various council members and the Mayor for providing important information and explaining things for me.
The proposed FY2011Y budget is a tough one; the Mayor and the Council had to make some serious choices to make the budget lean due to the heavy loss of revenues from multiple sources – property taxes, state Highway funds and sales of Washington Post plant.
Yet, you may want to see things differently. If you do so, please have your voices heard by attending the council public hearing on the coming Tuesday, May 11. More on the public hearing can be found here.
(1) Home owners: Like our neighboring city Hyattsville, the city is proposing to keep residential property tax the same as last year. I think the Mayor and Council deserve credit for keeping the figure same. “In the near term I believe our property tax will remain the same. As I said during my campaign last year, I have no plan to raise taxes, though I believe that any responsible budget process has to consider potential revenue and expenses – and revenue include taxes” - wrote Mayor Andy Fellows to me in an email.
(2) Mayor and Council members: The wages for the Mayor and the Council will either remain the same. The draft budget posted online on the City’s website requests for a $2500 hike (from $45,000 to $47,500). To explain this hike Steve Groh wrote to me: “In FY10, one of the Council members had chosen to receive no pay. However, in FY10, we budgeted for 1/2 year salary in case that council member was not reelected. For FY11, that council member may use the pay he does not receive for a course. As a result, we budgeted for his full pay for FY11″. The Mayor is currently paid $7,500 annually and the Council members are paid $5,000 each annually.
(1) Residents Parking Vehicles on Streets: The budget is proposing to increase the residential parking fee from the current $5.00 to $10.00. KabirCares took a survey earlier on this,and most residents don’t like this hike. According to Steve Groh, the parking permit fee increase is projected to bring in approx. $14,000.
(2) Property / Business Owners: The occupancy permit application fee for the property owners will go up to $10. This is the annual fee that is paid by all residential rental properties and all commercial properties. It covers a portion of the cost of the code enforcement program and includes the annual inspection of those properties.
(3) City Streets: The City has lost around $600,000 of user fees that it used to get from the state and use for patching roads. Thus their won’t be any major street improvements in the coming year. The city will however spend some money to make emergency repairs of its streets. That money will come from the approximately $70,000 it has remaining in highway user tax revenue and the rest (about $80,000) as a transfer from the general fund to the pavement management CIP fund.
(4) Parking Enforcements. The city will save $49,621 plus benefits by reducing the number of parking enforcement officers by one. One parking enforcement officer retired early this month and will not be replaced.
(5) Public Safety: The funding for the County Contract Police will remain the same. “The FY2011 budget continues to provide $1,000,000 in funding for 3 full-time and a pool of part-time officers to provide 320 hours per week on average of supplemental City-wide policing.”- says the draft budget. Though the violent crime has gone down across the entire county, house and car break – ins have gone up in the city. The public safety remains a major concern among city residents.
(6) The Committee for the Better Environment (CBE): CBE will lose $1000 (from $2500 to $1500)
(7) Public Schools: The City’s public school grants will go down from $15,000 to $10,000
(8) Boys and Girls Club: CPBG will get a big hit by $7500 reduction in their city grants (from $20,000 to $12,500)
(9) Shuttle – UM for Residents: The city’s grant for the service will go down from $10,000 to $5,000. There will be reduction of one bus route in north College Park.
Last Updated: 05/08/2010