TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski released a $4.2 billion budget for fiscal year 2022, prioritizing education and the county’s coronavirus recovery.

The proposed budget included the largest-ever dollar increase for public schools.

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“This budget is an investment in our shared future and a better Baltimore County – with stronger schools, vibrant communities, and a thriving economy,” Olszewski said. “Together we have an opportunity to build on the historic progress we have already made, take bold steps to address longstanding disparities in our communities, and plan a thoughtful recovery that will not just rebuild our way of life, but improve it.”

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The county council will vote on the budget on May 27.

Here are some of the budget details, highlighted in a county’s press release:

Education

  • Provides record funding for education for the third year in a row. Total proposed education budget is more than $2.05 billion and includes the single largest dollar increase – more than $40 million – over the Maintenance of Effort (MOE) in County history.
  • Restores 122 teaching positions originally proposed to be cut due to declining enrollment as a result of the pandemic.
  • Provides $67 million towards a new Lansdowne High School.
  • Provides $50.8 million in funding to complete Baltimore County’s Schools for our Future school construction projects.
  • Provides full funding for step increases and a mid-year Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for BCPS staff.

Economic Opportunity

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  • Freezes in-County tuition at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) for third year in a row.
  • Expands the College Promise Program, enabling CCBC to accept approximately 500 additional students.
  • Increases Early College Access program for County high school students.
  • Supports creation of the County’s first dedicated Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to help ensure access to affordable housing, provide housing stability support, and develop stronger neighborhoods.
  • Expands small business resource center youth works programming.

Healthy and Safe Communities

  • Provides $16 million towards a new fire station and police substation in Sparrows Point
  • Provides an additional $7 million towards new Wilkens Precinct.
  • Provides $4.5 million towards a second set of turnout gear for firefighters and commercial grade washers for firefighters.
  • Provides $1 million towards land acquisition for new career fire station in Catonsville.
  • Completes the effort to fully outfit Body Worn Cameras to remaining law enforcement officers.

Vibrant, Livable Communities

  • Eliminates all overdue fines for Baltimore County Public Library patrons.
  • Provides over $12 million for major senior center projects across Baltimore County, including a $4.6 million expansion of the Woodlawn Senior Center, and $3 Million for a new dedicated senior center in northern Baltimore County.
  • Addresses recommendations of Code Enforcement Work Group to fund six additional code enforcement inspectors
  • Proposes a new revolving fund to address blighted properties
  • Provides funding to bring back bulk trash pick-up in early 2022.

Sustainable Communities

  • Provides $75 million in state and local funding for parks and open space, including leveraging $7 million in state and local funding for development of park at Greens Lane in Randallstown and provides $14.5 million to finish the Sparrows Point Park project.
  • Funding to support operation of Towson Circulator which is expected to begin service this fall.
  • Provides $5.3 million for land preservation.
  • Provides $2.4 million for tree planting, maintenance, and equity tree planting across Baltimore County.

Commitment to Critical Investments

  • Contributes $70 million to OPEB—doubling last year’s investment to the fund that provides health and life insurance benefits for retired County employees.
  • Retains a 13 percent fund balance-critical for maintaining the County’s bond ratings.
  • Provides full funding of steps and increments as well as mid-year costs of live increase for all County employees

One local resident WJZ talked to said she believes it’s important to help small businesses who have struggled amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I do think it’s important to help the economy and help the small businesses who have really lost a lot,” Anne McAuliffe, a Baltimore County resident, said.

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You can atch the full press conference below:

Rachael Cardin