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Fy 2014 Budget Message 130415

Fy 2014 Budget Message 130415

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Published by: rajusme on May 23, 2013
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05/23/2013

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 KEVIN KAMENETZCounty ExecutiveApril 15, 2013Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the County Council, fellow employees,and citizens of our great County.Let me take a moment to thank a few people who are here with us this morning. I firstthank the Council members for your partnership in helping us guide this County.With the conclusion of the recent General Assembly session, I want to thank theleadership of our delegation; in particular, Senator Kathy Klausmeier, Chair of our SenateDelegation; Senator Ed Kasemeyer, Chair of the Senate's Budget and TaxationCommittee; and Delegate and Speaker Pro Tem Adrienne Jones for their support of theCounty's legislative agenda, along with the hard-working Senator Delores Kelley, Chair of Executive Nominations, and Senator Norman Stone, President Pro Tem Emeritus.I also appreciate School Superintendent Dr. Dallas Dance and CCBC President Dr.Sandra Kurtinitis for joining us this morning.Importantly, I must thank Director Keith Dorsey, Deputy Director Ed Blades, and theentire Office of Budget and Finance for their hard work in preparing today’s budget.They do an outstanding job.My highest praise, however, goes to each and every County employee for their dedicationto providing exceptional service for the citizens of Baltimore County. I don’t always getthe chance to say thank you, but please know that the work you do makes a tremendousdifference in so many lives.And to all of our 815,000 citizens, I thank you for the honor to serve as your twelfthCounty Executive, and to present to you Baltimore County’s proposed $2.8 billionOperating and $339 million Capital Budgets for Fiscal Year 2014.
 
Twenty-nine months ago, the people of Baltimore County challenged us to lead in themidst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Tasked withnavigating declining revenues while serving our County’s largest population ever, weestablished a three-pronged approach to governing by applying the principles of 
Innovation
,
Responsibility
, and 
Efficiency
.1
 
 Our ongoing analysis of agency functions and implementation of best practice policiesallow us to streamline and consolidate operations. Utilizing technology, we maintained core government services while reducing — without furloughs or firings — our government workforce to its smallest number in the past 25 years.In the three fiscal years since 2010, we have operated with a balanced budget while stillmaintaining our Triple AAA bond rating — a task accomplished by just 39 counties inthis country.To our employees, we have asked much of you. However, despite the challenging strainon our budget, we have worked hard to protect your health and pension benefits bystrengthening the Employee Retirement System. Unlike any other jurisdiction in thisState, we have lowered the actuarial rate, raised the funding status, and continued  payment of our OPEB liability. As a result, your promised benefits will be there whenyou retire, and without being a burden to our taxpayers down the road.Through disciplined fiscal management, we continue to prioritize funding for our coretenets of 
public education
,
public safety
and the
rebuilding of our aginginfrastructure
. At the same time, we are attracting millions in new business investmentthroughout the County, including exciting projects in Owings Mills, Towson and WhiteMarsh.This is now my 19
th
year as a County official — spanning the tenures of CountyExecutives Ruppersberger and Smith — and I can assure you, over these years, that both branches of government have been integral to our success. However, we must be ever vigilant in our continuing quest to streamline County operations, save taxpayer dollarsand generate economic growth. I’m here today to ask you to stay the course. It’s working.
Fiscal Responsibility
Founding Father Benjamin Franklin wrote:Waste neither time nor money, but make the best use of both. Without industryand frugality, nothing will do; with them, everything.
 
Baltimore County’s proposed FY 14 budget does just that. We balance our dedication tofiscal responsibility with our commitment to ushering County government well into this21
st
century.The County's FY 14 General Fund Budget, subject to spending affordability, is $1.684 billion, an increase of just 2.94% above the previous year. While there is no cost of living increase for employees, it does fund increments and longevity increases. Approximately26% of County employees receive these adjustments.As careful stewards of taxpayer dollars, we’ve worked diligently to again craft a budgetwith a bottom line that falls below the Council’s recommended spending affordabilityguidelines.2
 
 Remarkably, thanks to the industry of every one of Baltimore County’s employees, we propose no increase in the property tax rate for the 25
th
year in a row, and no increase inthe income tax rate for the 21
st
year in a row. Think about this for a second. This Countyhas not raised the property tax rate for a quarter of a century!
Education
Once again, this budget continues to fund the Baltimore County Public Schools atMaintenance of Effort levels. The FY 14 Board of Education operating portion of the budget comprises 53% of the total County budget. When capital related items areincluded, total education funding exceeds $1.4 billion.Respected statesman Nelson Mandela once said:Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.How prophetic are those words, especially given the limitless possibilities of today’sglobal reach. Yet, if we are to prepare our students to compete in the 21
st
centuryworkforce, we must change the way we educate them to reflect our ever-changing world.Think for a moment, when you were growing up, of your bedroom at home, or even your college dorm. We had no smartphones, tablets, laptops, or Wi-Fi. Internet was sciencefiction. We didn’t even have microwaves or Xboxes. We had landlines — attached to thewall and with a rotary dial — and we wrote letters by hand to be delivered via “air mail.”During class, we occasionally daydreamed while the teacher’s chalk-dusted hand scribbled across the blackboard. We thought we were satisfied with just four channels broadcast on rabbit-eared televisions. Nostalgically, that world is long gone. If our students are to achieve their potential, wemust teach them using the same language of technology that they speak outside of theclassroom.Dallas Dance is the most exciting and energetic school superintendent we have had in thisCounty in a long time. He understands this new reality, where we have to stop thinking of mere textbooks, chalkboards and traditional classroom models. He and I share a visionfor our school system in which we identify the resources that students and teachers need to create modern learning communities for the current millennia.Dr. Dance and I recently toured Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts inDundalk, and I can assure you that the future is now. This 50 year-old school building(one of the oldest in the County) houses our school system’s most modern technology — and mindset. The engaging interaction between students and teachers at Patapsco isimpressive, and I’m pleased to have the principal who initiated such an outstandingtechnology environment with us today, Mr. Ryan Imbriale. Ryan has created an amazingcommunity of learners where Twitter feeds, QR codes and smartphones are asomnipresent in school as they are in students’ lives outside of the classroom.3

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