This past Saturday, the City Council reviewed and discussed the Proposed Budget with the City Manager and directors.

The City operates on a fiscal year, from July 1 to June 30. The budget process begins in January, with guidelines issued to department directors by the City Manager. Departmental requests are prepared and submitted in February. The City Manager met with each department director to discuss their requests. Changes and revisions to the requests and revenue projections are incorporated into the Proposed Budget, which was submitted to the Council last week.

Here are a few highlights of the proposed City budget:

Funding Sources:

The FY2024 budgeted revenue and other financing sources of $24.1 million is a 20.8% decrease, or $6.3 million, compared to the FY2023 budget. The primary reason for this decrease was the inclusion in the FY2023 budget of $7.3 million of funding from lost revenue recovery to support CIP projects, which was not available for FY2024; combined with increases in property tax revenues of $449,000, mainly a result of increased assessed values; and a $1.1 million increase in Other Taxes (Income Tax, Admission & Amusement Tax, Highway User Tax and Hotel/ Motel Tax) anticipated as visitors and other drivers of those revenue sources continue increasing to pre-pandemic levels. Please see the breakdowns of different sources below:

Property Tax Rate: The FY24 budget proposes maintaining the existing property tax rate for FY2024 at 30.18 cents. For more queries about taxes, you may want to head out to sites like Tax Robot.

Expenditures:

The FY2024 budget proposes total expenditures, transfers, and contingency of $24.1 million, which is a 20.8% decrease, or $6.3 million, compared to the FY2023 budget. Like revenue, the primary reason for the decrease is related to the transfer to the Capital Projects Fund from lost revenue recovery sources in FY2023. That decrease netted against various increases in departmental expenditures, primarily salary and benefits related (added positions, merit and cost-of-living increases, and increased contributions to the Maryland State Retirement System) are the primary factors in the net decrease. The budget also includes a transfer to the Capital Projects Fund of $116,000 and the Debt Service Fund for $1,228,162. Budgeted expenditures are increasing almost 11% or $2.2 million. That increase is primarily attributable to almost $1 million in General Government and Administration expenditures, $456,000 in Public Services, and another $592,000 in Public Works. In addition to the salary and benefits increases mentioned above, $200,000 was added to the Economic Development budget for business assistance grants and retention efforts.

Staff Changes: The proposed budget suggests adding the following positions

  • Additional 0.5 FTE Contract Police Officer
    • During the worksession, I requested another 0.5 FTE contract police officer. In the recent City survey, residents have identified crime prevention and contract police programs as the top priority that the Council should focus on in the next two years.
  • Code Supervisor
    • To enhance code enforcement
  • Part-time Education Support Specialist
    • to support a new tutoring school program for College Park students
  • Video/Television Production Specialist
  • Event Assistant/Volunteer Coordinator
  • Part-time Animal Control Officer
    • To provide complete coverage on weekends and during leave time of the full-time Animal Control Officer
  • Part-time Emergency Assistance Case Manager
  • Facilities Maintenance Worker
  • Maintenance Worker (2)

Capital Improvement Project (CIP) Fund:

This fund is used for capital outlay exceeding $10,000. This fund summarizes the more detailed 5-year Capital Improvements Program (CIP). The CIP includes one-time capital expenditures referred to as “departmental capital,” and significant capital projects that span more than one fiscal year for completion, typically referred to as “CIP.” Some CIP projects, such as Facilities Capital Reserve, were initially created to accumulate funds for future expenditures on a project. Please see below the major CIP projects in the City:

Council Budget Requests:

City Council members also asked several requests to be included in the new budget

  1. A spring tour for the City residents to showcase the native plants at a local park. A small budget will be required to mark / label / tag the plants. Estimated cost – $2-$4K.
  2. Flashing Stops will be ordered in FY23 for 51st and 52nd Avenue. Would require in FY24=$15K for purchase and installation at 49th and 53rd.
  3. The proposed CIP includes four new camera locations in North College Park. This location would be included.
  4. The bus shelters (a) Route 1 (near the Dunkin store) and (b) on westbound Edgewood Rd, near Rhode Island Ave.-Estimated cost – $36K.
  5. $10,000 for two internship projects. This includes an interactive Online College Park’s History Internship Project ($5,000)
  6. Additional Street Lighting in Lakeland on Lakeland Road Between Rhode Island Ave. and Baltimore Ave. One wood pole available for an additional streetlight. . Estimated cost – $5K.
  7. Mural to beautify the entrance to Lake Artemesia from Lakeland and acknowledge the history of the Lakeland Community. A minimum of $30,000 is needed to work with an artist and paint a mural, but costs can vary widely depending on the design and location. The City has $75,000 in an annual fund to incentivize public art in private projects, which might also be used for this. The proposed Art and Culture Plan to be completed in FY 2024, will address the process, themes, location, and budget for public art citywide. This could be a pilot project recommended in the plan.
  8. Improvements to the walking path on the east side of Rhode Island Ave along Duvall Field (Cherokee to Blackfoot Place. Estimated cost $25-$30K.
  9. Bus Shelter for Cherry Hill Road across from Shoppers. FY23-Shelter ordered and will be installed this fiscal year.
  10. Planting more trees at the dead end of Bridgewater to provide protection from the noise on Metzerott Road. Unknown parties are walking through the debris and coming into the neighborhood. Will check property ownership. Estimated tree planting – $3-5K.
  11. Little Free Library Box Exchange is at the Community Center’s top in CPW. A box needs to be built; DPW can install it.
  12. Senior and Social Sports League Plan/Pilot: This would require establishing a recreation program/dept and hiring a recreation coordinator $50K + benefits.

Next Steps: A budget ordinance will be introduced at a regular meeting of the City Council in late April and a public hearing on that ordinance is held in early May. A budget ordinance is required by the Charter to be adopted by May 31.