Spending Your Money: County Budget Coming Up

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By Nathan Volke
Councilman, District 3

On March 12, I co-hosted a budget town hall meeting at Northeast High School with County Executive Steuart Pittman. Here are some of the budget priorities we heard from residents:

  • Pay teachers fairly and equitably for their experience and hard work
  • Increase the staffing and pay for professional firefighters, police and detention officers
  • Build the new Riviera Beach Library and fund a temporary library during construction
  • Support the budget and mission of Anne Arundel Community College
  • Create more transportation options in Pasadena, including building more sidewalks

The good news: Many people are very happy with the services being provided by our county government and want to see more of those services. This speaks volumes to the tremendous quality and volume of work being done by county employees. They are doing a great job!

The bad news: Without raising taxes, we are projected to have around $50 million in new revenue for the upcoming budget. To put that in perspective, the Board of Education is already asking for an additional $92 million just for schools. That does not include any other county services, like police, fire, detention centers, public works and every other part of county government. You can see the math doesn't add up without raising taxes.

Special interest groups are already proposing the answer is to raise the income tax and go around the property tax cap passed by the voters. One proposal I’ve seen to increase the income tax would cost the median county household — a household making $100,000 — an additional $400-$700 per year. Going around the property tax, which can be done according to state law to fund education, will cost even more. It all adds up to a lot more money out of your pocket.

Personally, I am very frugal. Just ask my wife or anyone who knows me. We've lived in the same townhouse for the last seven years. We've made tough spending decisions to keep expenses down while saving for retirement. And we’ve sacrificed luxuries to pay off my student loans, which we did last year. I understand the delicate balance of making tough choices. And I realize how household budgets will be significantly affected by more taxes.

Low taxes has long been an issue we can all agree on in Anne Arundel County. It is why we have some of the lowest tax rates in the state of Maryland. Many of us chose to live and retire in Anne Arundel County, instead of Howard County or Montgomery County or Baltimore City, because this is one of the most tax-friendly counties in Maryland.

In my campaign, I told you my plan was to work to incrementally improve our county infrastructure, pay and services, while not introducing new taxes. You all elected me knowing that, and I intend to keep my pledge. I am looking forward to working with my colleagues on the county council to craft a fiscally responsible, sustainable budget. I hope you will send me your input and thoughts on how we should do it.

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