The County Executive will release her budget on Apr. 12th.
Frederick, Md (KM) It was a time for citizens to let Frederick County officials know what they want in a fiscal year 2019 budget. County Executive Jan Gardner held a hearing Thursday night at Winchester Hall to receive input from residents.
Funding for public education was a dominant topic. Frederick County Teachers Association President Missy Dirks called for full funding of the School System’s request. “Once again, the BOE’s budget is not a list of wants filled with new initiatives. It’s a responsible budget based on the minimum needs of the system and its students,” she said.
THe Board of Education last month approved a funding request with $606-million in expenses, and $588-million in revenues.
School Board President Brad Young asked that funding be retained for the third year of a four-year sustainable pay scale for employees in order to bring up their salaries to be competitive. “It’s absolutely vital that we continue moving toward this more fair and competitive pay scale for teachers,” he said. “Nothing will take us to further recruiting and retaining the best than completing this transition.”
In a related issue, James Hand asked for more teachers who are trained in working with dyslexic students. His daughter has dyslexia. “Luckily, it’s happy that they;’re going to train 20 teachers in instructional reading programs to help kids. The problem I have is it’s simple math: it’s 37 elementary schools, and they want to train 20 teachers. I challenge you and I ask to ask yourself does that make sense,” he said. Hand wanted at least one teacher trained in working with dyslexic students be in every elementary school.
Several Brunswick residents showed up to ask that plans to begin construction of Othello Regional Park remain in the County Executive’s draft budget. The new park located along Route 180 north of Brunswick will have athletic fields, playgrounds, a pavilion and trails. Brunswick Mayor Jeff Snoots said there are not enough recreational facilities in that part of the county.. “The Brunswick, Rosemont, Jefferson, Burkettsville, Point of Rocks and other surrounding areas currently do not have enough facilities for youth sports. Othello Park is designated for various sports fields and recreational amenities. This park is very much needed in southern Frederick County,” he said.
Janna Wagner works with a little league that provides affordable baseball and softball for about 300 children, boys and girls, from age four to 16. “With nearly 25 teams, scheduling practices and games on the few fields we have is a quite a balancing act.,” she said. “Having extra game and practice space at Othello Park would alleviate a lot of frustration and allow the children of our region to excel in baseball and softball.”
Bruce Zavos, who chairs the Affordable Housing Council, requested that there be a permanent and predictable revenue stream for affordable housing projects, not the payment in lieu from developers. He said finding a place to live that’s affordable is a major problem. “The housing study and advocacy groups all indicate is one of if not the most pressing our community faces,” he said. “A diversity of housing choices is essential to maintain a vibrant, economically thriving community.”
The County Executive is scheduled to release her proposed budget on Thursday, April 12th.
Budget Director Rick Harcum says 83% of the funds in the spending plan are for mandated expenses such as education, law enforcement, fire and rescue and other needs. Only 17% is discretionary. In addition, trying to fund as many of these requests won’t be easy. “We’re at $31-million and growing, and it’s going to be a very difficult process to go through that list and try to figure out what we can fit and what we can’t fit into next year’s budget,” Harcum says.
By Kevin McManus