BOWIE – The city police force will begin using body cameras as a part of a national grant program once the city council approves the 2016 budget. According to City Manager David Deutsch, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced a $20 million grant program for local police departments for body cameras. Deutsch has proposed funding […]
BOWIE – The city police force will begin using body cameras as a part of a national grant program once the city council approves the 2016 budget.
According to City Manager David Deutsch, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced a $20 million grant program for local police departments for body cameras. Deutsch has proposed funding for a body camera program, and a third of the funds. He hopes to receive some funding through the grant program since a third of the grant’s funds will be allocated to small, local governments.
As everyone knows, there’s an awful lot of focus on the issue of body cameras,” Deutsch said. “We don’t know what that threshold might be in terms of population and numbers of officer, but we’ve got our grant folks checking into that and we hope to be able to apply for some federal assistance in that regard. I’ll keep the council posted.”
The mayor and council also discussed the city’s constant yield tax rate.
According to Deutsch, 25 years ago, the state decided to impose requirements on the local government.
“We’ve met all the legal requirements,” Deutsch said to the council. “Our budget proposal to you as we’ve been discussing for the last several weeks indicates no change in the property tax rate at 40 cents per 100 dollars of assessed value.”
Deutsch said the state indicates that if the city were to stay at the constant yield, they would need to lower the tax rate by a little over a penny to 38.39.cent.
“That is not what our recommendation is; it is for maintaining the tax rate at 40 cents,” Deutsch said. “Reducing to the constant yield would essentially cost us about $700,000 in property tax and revenue and if you were to take that action, the benefit to individual tax payers would be less than $20 to the typical homeowner.”
Councilman H.L. Dufour Woolfley said he is pleased that the tax rate will stay the same.
“We were able to do so this year through due diligence and good work of staff in finding the cost savings where we can and keeping costs under control and I think that’s a commitment the city has demonstrated that it has for its citizen,” Woolfley said.
Dustin M. Kuzan, co-chair of the City of Bowie’s Financial Advisory Committee, made a presentation before the council. Kuzan said the committee reviewed the proposed budget and concluded that it is consistent with previous budget proposals which are based on a pay-as-you-go philosophy. The committee commended the council for maintaining the tax rate.
“Planned development, when handled properly, is an indication that a community is fiscally healthy and positioned for growth,” Kuzan said. “It is encouraging that the proposed budget is focused on maintaining current levels of service to the community and that the city is actively pursuing the addition of new recreational facilities and expanding the police department.”
The indoor sports facility is one of those planned developments for Fiscal Year 2016.
“In the expansion of city recreational facilities is slated to begin with architectural plans and site design,” Kuzan said. “In the next few years, this expenditure will cost the city an excess of $20 million dollars…While we are not advocating for a completely self-sustained facility, we do believe a driving principle behind the planning and design of the facility should be to maximize its own revenues and minimize taxpayer contributions,” said Kuzan.
According to Kuzan, it is proposed that the Bowie Police Department receive an almost two million dollar increase over the prior fiscal year.
“This budget increase will finance staff enhancements, additional K-9 capabilities, department accreditation, new employees at the call center and an addition of new technologies to enhance the legitimacy and the use of police authority,” said Kuzan.