By Jordan Smith
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, undeterred by economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, submitted a $3.9 billion operating budget for fiscal year 2021 that would provide quality education, ensure safe neighborhoods and revive the workforce.
Olszewski on Tuesday gave the budget to the County Council and stressed that the new fiscal year will begin with $40 million less on July 1 because of the economic impact of the pandemic.
“This is not the budget I hoped to present to you this year, but it is the budget that meets the moment,” said the county executive, who described the state and county’s efforts to fight the coronavirus as “an immediate and evolving crisis.”
Olszewski emphasized record investments in education through his virtual address to the County Council. Also, he highlighted support for essentials to continue the progress of Baltimore County.
Among the key features of the budget:
- A record $2 billion funding, which is nearly $36 million more than this fiscal year’s funding levels and $20 million more than the required maintenance of effort.
- All Baltimore County Public Schools employees will see a 1 percent cost-of-living increase July 1.
Healthy and Safe Communities
- Firefighters will receive a second set of turnout gear through the first phase of funding.
- Two, new school-based Police Athletic League Centers would be created through the Department of Recreation and Parks.
- The Community College of Baltimore County will be able to accept an addition 300 students with the College Promise Program.
- In-county students at CCBC would pay the same in tuition under a freeze.
“The new reality” of COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the state, which does not have “much room for extras,” Olszewski said.