Prince George’s County facing $62.5M budget shortfall for fiscal 2014.

12

Mr. Baker.

Prince George’s County is facing a $62.5 million budget shortfall with six weeks left in the fiscal year, officials said.

The deficit was driven primarily by higher-than-projected overtime pay for public safety officials, workers compensation payments and snow-removal operations during an unusually snowy winter.

If county government leaders cannot decide on a strategy to close the gap, the deficits could carry into the next fiscal year, officials said, resulting in possible hiring ­freezes, furloughs and agency budget cuts.

“The problem is, we’re literally at the end of doing the budget for next year, and this came down,” said County Council member William A. Campos (D-Hyattsville). “We are juggling two monumental things.”

Normally, holes in projected revenue are plugged during the budget process. But for the first time in several years, the revenue collected in fiscal 2014 did not cover actual operating expenses for the year, said Thomas Himler, deputy chief administrative officer for budget, finance and administration.

The largest chunk of the deficit – 75 percent – went to public safety expenses. Overtime payments to police, sheriff’s deputies, corrections officers, paramedics and firefighters accounted for $17 million. The Prince George’s County Police Department exceeded its budget by about $21 million, a little more than a third of the total deficit.

Officials said some of the unbudgeted overtime stems from County Executive Rushern L. Baker III’s initiative to station extra officers in troubled communities in an effort to lower crime rates.

The county also needed more money than expected to fund new classes of recruits and their fringe benefits, including retirement and health care, according to a budget update presented to the council this month.

“Overtime has been a problem for some time,” said council member Mary A. Lehman (D-Laurel). “A certain amount of overtime is unavoidable because there aren’t enough officers and firefighters to staff all the stations and apparatus safely.”

Changes in the overtime rules under Baker (D) have contributed to the enormous expenses, she said.

Of the total shortfall, about $10 million went to one-time costs such as snow removal. The shortfall also includes a $7 million liability payout by the Prince George’s County Housing Authority after an independent auditor found that housing choice voucher funds were used inappropriately.

Income tax revenue was lower than expected in Prince George’s, in part because of federal government furloughs and cost-cutting as part of last year’s sequester. But that shortfall was made up by an increase in property taxes as the housing market recovers, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

Baker’s administration proposed this week bridging the shortfall by taking $42 million out of the fund balance, or reserve fund, and cutting $20 million in agency operating budgets.

The plan would have to be approved by the council.

Depleting the reserve fund would leave the county vulnerable as it begins the next fiscal year. The county is supposed to safeguard about 7 percent of operating revenue in the fund balance. Council members said they are concerned that depleting those reserves could affect the county’s triple A bond rating.

If the deficit carries over into next fiscal year, Prince George’s may have to impose hiring ­freezes and, possibly, furloughs — something some council members said they are unwilling to do.

The deficit debate could delay the council’s adoption of the 2015 budget next week. >>> Read more Washington Post

***

 

untitled4

10 responses »

  1. Pingback: Call your Elected Officials now and the Media. | pgcps mess - Reform Sasscer without delay.

  2. Pingback: Call your Elected Officials now and the Media. | Help Change The World. The Future Of The County Is Now.

  3. Pingback: Why corruption in Prince George’s county is the county’s worst enemy. | pgcps mess - Reform Sasscer without delay.

  4. Pingback: Why corruption in Prince George’s county is the county’s worst enemy. | Help Change The World. The Future Of The County Is Now.

  5. Pingback: PGCPS Employee Harrassed by Supervisor Suing. | pgcps mess - Reform Sasscer without delay.

  6. Pingback: PGCPS Employee Harrassed by Supervisor Suing. | Help Change The World. The Future Of The County Is Now.

  7. Pingback: Rainy-day fund in Pr. George’s is at its lowest point in several years & Baker refuses to take responsibility. | pgcps mess - Reform Sasscer without delay.

  8. Pingback: Rainy-day fund in Pr. George’s is at its lowest point in several years & Baker refuses to take responsibility. | Help Change The World. The Future Of The County Is Now.

  9. Pingback: Baker aides say council broke the law when it rejected major tax increase | Help Change The World. The Future Of The County Is Now.

  10. Pingback: Baker aides say council broke the law when it rejected major tax increase | pgcps mess - Reform Sasscer without delay.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.