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College Park May Face Cuts in State’s Open Space Grants

Recently, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Governor stated that reductions are necessary due to reductions in revenue estimates for this current FY 2015. Accordingly, the Board of Public Works made approximately $400 million in cuts to agencies’ general fund budgets for the remaining fiscal year.

At this time, DBM proposes to transfer a total of $11.8 million in what had been unencumbered special fund balances (cash) from Program Open Space (approximately $3 million stateside and $8 million local) to the General Fund.

College ark and other Maryland municipalities use the Program Open Space grants to acquire land and develop them for public uses (such as park etc.)

At this point, POS Local projects may move forward. However, the Department of Natural Resources is requesting that counties not bring forth any cash-funded POS Local projects. At this point POS Stateside must limit cash expenditures to existing bills due payment; and only to bills that must be paid in cash associated with projects well underway where timing warrants payment, and where GO bonds are not a payment option because of timing or eligibility issues for this source of funding.

It is still far from clear what the proposed FY16 budget submissions will contain. However, our City staff contacted the County coordinator for Program Open Space funding to determine what impact the cuts would have on College Park.

The total reduction statewide is $8.1 million, of which Prince George’s County will lose approximately $1.8 million. Since College Park represents approximately 3.52 % of the total County population, the City’s portion of the cut will be $64,127. Not including this anticipated cut (a budget reconciliation bill must be passed in the current session), and the City’s Program Open Space funds that are already encumbered, the City at the end of FY14 had approximately $2 million in total Program Open Space funding (for both acquisition and development).

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