Prince George's County Executive Lawrence Hogan said yesterday he will allow the county's $524.6 million budget to become law July 1 without his signature, as a way of protesting a three-cent tax increase passed by the council over his objections.
Hogan, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate after one term as executive, originally proposed a three-cent increase in the property tax rate, but he proposed to offset that with an equivalent cut in the combined park and planning and water and sewer rates. While following Hogan's property tax proposal, the all-Democratic council also raised the park and planning and water and sewer tax by half a cent, bringing the total tax rate increase to 3.58 cents per $100 valuation.
In a terse letter to the council, Hogan said, "I believe the increase was not justified and unnecessary. I cannot endorse the property tax increases approved by the council."
The budget reduces funds for education and has caused widespread layoffs by the nation's 13th largest school system. Hogan proposed giving the schools some $30 million less than they requested. The council restored a small portion of the cut, but not enough to stave off layoffs that the school board said were necessary if it was to fund negotiated employe contracts. Hogan contended the layoffs could have been avoided.
The final budget gives $306.3 million to the board of education, about $3 million less than it has this year. It provides funds to hire 50 additional police, 36 fire department personnel and 30 corrections officers, raising the property tax rate to the maximum allowed under TRIM, the charter-mandated cap on property tax.