Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman delivered his proposed $1.87 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2022 to the Anne Arundel County Council on April 30. Pittman touted the budget as a plan that strengthens the county’s fiscal health, while investing in public safety, education, and other key needs identified through an “open and transparent” budget process.
In his budget address to the council, Pittman noted that after reduced revenue projections led to belt tightening and a healthy year-end fund balance, the FY22 budget proposal puts the county back on track for key initiatives in a fiscally responsible manner.
“This budget helps us achieve four basic goals: restore trust in government, create economic opportunity for all, implement smart growth policies, and promote health and wellness. These are the principles that guide us, not only as we budget, but also as we govern,” Pittman said. “I want to thank the residents who participated in our seven budget town halls and provided valuable feedback on the budget, and I want to thank our budget team for taking the needs identified by our residents and staff to create a budget that puts us back on track.”
Pittman said the proposed budget accomplishes these goals while keeping the local income tax at the fourth-lowest rate in the state and slightly decreasing the property tax to 93 cents per $100 of assessment, the seventh lowest in the state.
Councilman Nathan Volke, a Republican from Pasadena, took issue with Pittman branding the budget as a cost-cutting measure.
“For the third year in a row, he disregards the property tax cap in Anne Arundel County and is using the resulting tax dollars to increase the budget at an unsustainable pace,” Volke wrote in a Facebook post. “This is the same person who campaigned in 2018 on not raising taxes, then raised taxes the very next budget. He continues to implement a back-door tax increase year-over-year by going over the tax cap that is allowing this funding to occur while claiming he has not raised taxes. Instead of looking at ways to provide any tax relief to you (aka the taxpayer), he just keeps finding more ways to spend our money.”
Councilwoman Sarah Lacey, a Democrat who is chair of the council, said the budget invests in programs and services county residents depend on.
“The county executive's budget supports our educators, gives the health department the COVID resources it needs and funds key programs to support our most vulnerable residents,” she shared in a statement.
Another supporter of the budget is John Hammond, former budget officer and chairman of the board of trustees of both the retirement and pension system and the retiree health benefit trust.
"I am pleased that this year's proposed budget continues to enhance the financial soundness of the county," Hammond said. "Enhancing our annual pension contribution, fully funding the retiree health benefit trust's annual contribution, and providing a significant boost to the county's rainy day fund position Anne Arundel County well for the future. The county's financial reserves are adequate to backstop unexpected economic impacts, and county employees and retirees can count on their future benefits, which they earned during their employment, being there when they need it.”
The county charter provides 45 days for the county council to deliberate on the budget, and a final vote is scheduled for Monday, June 14.
“This budget is fiscally responsible and fair,” Pittman said. “It puts us back on track after a challenging year, and will make Anne Arundel County ‘the best place for all’ - far into the future.”
Pittman said the FY22 budget reflects fiscally responsible investment across four basic goals:
RESTORE TRUST IN GOVERNMENT
CREATING ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL
Investing in educators
IMPLEMENT SMART GROWTH POLICIES
HEALTH AND WELLNESS
In addition to the priority items noted above, the budget includes key investments in county infrastructure: