They contain a lot of school construction projects.
Frederick, Md (KM). Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner on Thursday released her draft fiscal year 2019 Capital Budget and 6-year Capital Improvements Plan. It contains a lot of school construction projects. “In fact, we’ve invested $208-million in school construction over the first three years of this administration, which is more than double what the previous administration spent in all four years, where they only spent $102-million. So I intend to continue a rigorous and accelerated school construction schedule,” she said during her public information briefing..
Gardner pointed to the opening planned for late this summer for two new schools in Frederick County. One is Butterfly Ridge Elementary School in Frederick, and Sugarloaf Elementary in Urbana. After Sugarloaf Elementary opens, she says students from Urbana Elementary will attend classes there while their old school building will be torn down and replaced with a new facility.
“I’m the excited to announce that the CIP moves up by one year the construction of the new east county elementary school, which doesn’t have a name yet, which will relieve overcrowding at Deer Crossing Elementary School,”: says Gardner.
“Waverly Elementary has money for design in the upcoming year, and construction in the follow fiscal,” she says. “Keeping this project moving is really, truly one of my top fiscal priorities.”
Other projects include a new Rock Creek School near Walkersville Middle School. “In the Capital Budget, which is the first year of the CIP, there’s also money for a feasibility study for a Liberty Elementary School. And that will determine the scope of the project: whether there’s a need to build a whole new school, or expand the existing one,” says Gardner.
There’s also money in the two documents for Frederick Community College, but not for new buildings. “Given the fiscal challenges of the college and the county, the Community College has strategically shifted away from building new buildings to revitalizing and re-purposing existing buildings and better utilizing their space. They have a space utilization study. So really what we’re focused on there is renovating existing space,” says Gardner.
Work is expected to get underway on renovating Building E on the FCC campus on Opposumtown Pike.
During her briefing, the County Executive said construction of a new Middletown fire station is underway. Her spending plans call for a new fire station on Hayward Road, and renovation the Green Valley fire station in Monrovia. In addition, she says there is $3.6-million to replace radios for the fire service. Radios for the Sheriff’s Office are planned for replacement in fiscal year 2020.
Although the operating budget is not scheduled for release until Thursday, April 12th, Gardner provided a preview at her briefing. She said there will be no increases in the property and income tax rates. “I am committed to protecting taxpayers while providing effective and efficient services for our community,” she said. “Again, we have held the line on taxes and we have not increased, or proposed to increase, any tax rates over this administration.”
She said revenue growth is expected to be modest. “As a result of improvement in property values, the expansion of new businesses in our growing economy, and our modest income growth that,again, reflects a stronger and thriving economy,” says Gardner.
But the county also must fund some mandates. “One of the biggest mandates that we have to fund every year is maintenance of effort for our school system. That approaches almost $5-million this year because we added 800 new students to our school system. So as our community grows, and the number of students grow, so does the amount we’re mandated to provide to education,’ she says.
There are also requests from the Sheriff’s Office and the Division of Fire and Rescue Services. “And they’ve all requested additional staff: additional sheriff’s deputies, fire fighters, 911 call takers,” says Gardner.
A budget hearing is scheduled for Thursday,. March 15th at 7:00 PM at Winchester Hall.
By Kevin McManus