By Salim Addrey
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski submitted a $4.2 billion budget proposal for the Fiscal Year 2022 to drive economic recovery, support sustainable communities, and support other key priorities.
The budget includes the largest-ever dollar increase in public schools and major investments.
“This budget is an investment in our shared future and a better Baltimore County – with stronger schools, vibrant communities, and a thriving economy,” Olszewski said.
Outside the millions that education is slated to receive, the economy of the county should receive a boost. Olszewski said that the budget will support the creation of the county’s first dedicated Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to ensure access to affordable housing, provide housing stability support, and develop stronger neighborhoods.
The county executive said that $16 million will be used for a new fire station and police substation in Sparrows Point and an additional $7 million will be put towards a new Wilkens Precinct. The budget will support the full outfitting of Body Worn Cameras for law enforcement officers as well as more equipment for the Fire Department.
More than $80 million will be allocated to parks and open spaces, including leveraging $7 million in state and local funding for development of a park at Greens Lane in Randallstown. Another $14.5 million will be used to finish the Sparrows Point Park project. The operation of Towson Circulator, which is expected to begin service this fall, will receive funding as well, Olszewski said.
“Together we have an opportunity to build on the historic progress we have already made, take bold steps to address longstanding disparities in our communities, and plan a thoughtful recovery that will not just rebuild our way of life, but improve it,” Olszewski added.
The county executive said $70 million will be used for post-employment benefits (OPEB) that doubles last year’s investment. And, he said officials will receive enough funding to eliminate all overdue fines for Baltimore County Public Library patrons.
Councilman Izzy Patoka said the county budget also provides $1 million in matching funds for the general improvement of the 13-acre site of the Pikesville Armory.
The County Council is scheduled to vote on the proposed FY22 budget on May 27.