FORT WASHINGTON – The Prince George’s County Local Development Council (LDC) called a special meeting on Jan. 26, and money was on its mind. The LDC met to hear from each of its three subcommittees regarding recommendations for how the county’s share of video lottery terminal revenues from MGM National Harbor should be spent. Although […]
FORT WASHINGTON – The Prince George’s County Local Development Council (LDC) called a special meeting on Jan. 26, and money was on its mind.
The LDC met to hear from each of its three subcommittees regarding recommendations for how the county’s share of video lottery terminal revenues from MGM National Harbor should be spent. Although a quorum was not present, preventing any official vote that evening, the LDC members in attendance heard each committee report. The body is trying to make sure its recommendations get to County Executive Rushern Baker, III as he formulates his fiscal year 2018 spending plan for the local impact funds. The LDC is required to approve the plan, but members wanted input early to make its feelings on supplanting other county funding sources known.
“If (North County) gets a new door, we’re getting a new door too, and we’re not using any local impact funds for that,” said Sen. C. Anthony Muse, LDC chair. “We want it to be more programmatic and more as funds that we can utilize based on the definition of what we’re supposed to be doing with those funds, as much of it is going here in excess of and in addition to what our regular tax dollars are supposed to be.”
The committees were largely in agreement about how the funds should be distributed. County law mandates 50 percent be devoted to education purposes. Of the remaining 50 percent, it was suggested 35 percent go to community needs, 35 percent to safety improvements and 30 percent to transportation projects.
Although the education spending is mandated by law, the LDC consensus was they still had authority to make recommendations on how the funds are spent within the larger education category. Once again, the priority was to make sure the local funds were adding to the area’s budget and not taking the place of county general fund obligations.
“We would like to see that the moneys allocated not be solely set aside for repairs and infrastructure, moreso for programs and helping to build our educational process,” said LDC member Jeffrey Chandler. “We want to make sure that moneys that are being used are impacting the schools within the impact zone.”
Specific recommendations under the education category were that 30 percent of the funds go towards scholarships for students and that $25,000 be directed to Fort Foote Elementary School to upgrade a classroom into a computer lab.
The public safety and transportation committee also recommended moving a total of $504,500 from police, fire and health and human services subcategories into the local impact grants fund- the pot of money at the LDC’s disposal for grants to community organizations.
“For discretionary spending, that amount is too low,” LDC member Zeno St. Cyr said. “With those additions from the other categories, that would boost the amount of available funds for fiscal year 2018, in the community impact grant fund category, to $804,500, and we would hope that as the years progress, that that fund would continue to grow.”
His committee further recommended that the remaining police and fire funds be used for one-time capital expenditures or equipment purchases and not personnel salaries.
The full LDC is scheduled to vote on the recommendations soon, and the subcommittee chairs are requesting a meeting with Baker and his budget staff to present them.
But not everyone at the meeting was pleased with the LDC’s actions. County Councilman Obie Patterson said he didn’t think the LDC went far enough in asking for only $500,000 more for the local impact grants.
“You all should have more to distribute out into the community for community projects. $804,000 is almost embarrassing,” he said. “I think you’re selling your own selves short.”