-The following article was submitted by Fifth District Baltimore County Councilman David Marks-
On April 13th, Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski, Jr., presented the Fiscal Year 2024 budget proposal to the Baltimore County Council.
The Council may now cut from the budget plan; we are prohibited from adding or moving money around. In my time as Councilman, I have supported more budget cuts than any other Councilmember in history.
There is much to support in this budget plan. I am particularly pleased with the focus on public safety. The proposal implements $7 million for the first phase of a take-home police car initiative that will result in a greater law enforcement presence in our neighborhoods. This project should also help with recruitment of new officers. Additionally, the budget funds a new, $4.4 million Essex police station. Public safety is the most fundamental responsibility for local government, and I am pleased we are taking steps to replenish our police force and rebuild our crime-fighting capabilities.
I will continue to work with our volunteer fire companies to support better facilities, particularly in Middle River. We supported legislation sponsored by Delegate Nawrocki to expand property tax relief for these facilities, and the District 7 state legislators were able to secure funding for improvements to the Middle River Volunteer Fire Company.
Open Space and the Environment
I worked very hard to ensure that money is included in the budget to acquire the C.P. Crane plant for open space. The budget includes more than $89 million for open space preservation, and the County Executive specifically mentioned the Crane location. In Perry Hall, the budget includes funding to design the 22-acre Gerst Road park.
There are numerous projects funded to improve our shorelines and environmentally-sensitive areas, including $500,000 to stabilize the Lower Gunpowder area at Gunhill in Perry Hall.
As a special educator and parent, I understand the importance of retaining and recruiting teachers and improving every school. The budget includes resources to start every Baltimore County teacher at $59,000 per year, and it finishes construction of a new King Avenue middle school and improvements to Pine Grove Middle School. Funding is also identified for smaller projects such as upgrades to Oliver Beach Elementary School and Middle River Middle School.
Councilman Crandell and I have both tried to focus attention on the Essex library. About $6 million is included for a replacement for this branch.
Roads and Infrastructure
Over the next few weeks, we will be working with the administration to identify those roads that can be resurfaced throughout the Fifth District. In addition to some very consequential water main projects in the Orems area and the completion of the Mohrs Lane bridge, the budget funds smaller initiatives throughout the Fifth District.
We will continue to stay in touch regarding the evolution of the proposed budget.