Prince George's County Executive Parris Glendening proposed yesterday increasing the county's contribution to the suburban Maryland park and planning agency by $6.5 million -- almost 17 percent -- while cutting 2 cents from the park and planning tax rate applied to residents' property tax bills.
The budget total for Prince George's, which along with Montgomery County is served by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, would be $45.5 million.
Glendening said he is able to recommend the spending increase while cutting the park and planning tax rate for Prince George's residents from 48 to 46 cents per $100 of assessed valuation because of "tremendous growth in the local economy" and the county's growing tax base.
According to the county's budget office, a house worth $85,000 would have an assessed value of $36,950. Under the current tax rate, the homeowner's park and planning tax bill would be $177.36. Under the proposed rate, the park and planning tax bill would be $169.97 -- an annual savings of $7.39.
The budget increase would allow the commission to add 57 full-time staff positions. Other increases would raise amounts for recreation programs by $950,000, maintenance by $857,000, the agency's park police force by $671,000 -- a 21 percent increase over the current year -- and planning by $1.2 million -- a 25 percent increase.
Glendening said the increase for planning should help that section of the commission retain employes longer, something it has been unable to do in recent years.
Glendening also recommended that the County Council reject the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission's request for a 5.4 percent rate increase next year, again citing county economic growth. "WSSC should be able to make significant improvements, particularly in the area of environmental protection, without a rate increase," he said.
His budget recommendation for the water and sewer agency calls for adding nine employes to expand water quality programs and environmental planning. He also urged the WSSC to begin addressing replacement needs, noting that water and sewer lines in some parts of the county are more than 50 years old.
Hilda Pemberton, County Council vice chairwoman, noted at the news conference that, to be approved, the bicounty commissions' budgets must pass the Prince George's and Montgomery county councils.