A tax increase in Baltimore County is now a foregone conclusion. That’s according to County Council Chairman Tom Quirk, who said the tax increase has to happen because the General Assembly did not deliver additional school construction money to the county.
Baltimore County was banking on getting an additional $100 million a year for the next four years for school construction. But that legislation died in a state senate committee and the legislature adjourned Monday night.
Quirk said that means a tax increase will need to happen because the county’s budget is not sustainable.
“Basically Baltimore County is in this alone,” Quirk said. "We need to partner with the state and we need the state to step up and really help us with funding and that just simply didn’t happen.”
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski will deliver his proposed budget to the council this coming Monday. Olszewski still is not showing his hand when it comes to taxes, but he does say the county will try again next year to get additional school construction dollars out of the legislature.
Olszewski said, “My hope is that next year we can get in there and get it done and it ends up being a one year delay.”
Otherwise, Olszewski said it will be several years before they can even start work on replacing the county’s dilapidated, overcrowded high schools. During last year’s campaign, Olszewski said he was committed to building new high schools for Lansdowne, Dulaney and Towson.
Olszewski is pleased that the General Assembly approved more than $800 million in additional spending statewide for public schools over the next two years. That money is for inside the classroom, things like teacher pay raises and pre-kindergarten. Olszewski said his staff is trying to figure out how much of that money is headed to Baltimore County.
“And that will help inform some of our final budget decisions this week,” Olszewski said.
The legislature also agreed to give the Baltimore County Council the power to charge developers impact fees. That could be part of Olszewski’s budget submission to council on Monday.