Baltimore County budget | WYPR

Baltimore County budget

John Lee

 

This week, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski will begin holding town hall meetings on the budget for this coming year.

Last year, the county raised taxes for the first time in a generation to close an $81 million shortfall. But officials say that does not mean the county is out of the fiscal woods yet, and tough decisions lie ahead.

WYPR’s John Lee joined Morning Edition host Nathan Sterner in the studio to talk about what is at stake.

Lauren Watley, Baltimore County Government

“Excruciating,” “trying,” “the most difficult in recent memory” — that’s how Baltimore County Council members described the process of finalizing the $3.43 billion budget they passed Thursday morning.

The budget for the next fiscal year included the first income tax hike in more than a generation and other tax increases in an attempt to close an $81 million county deficit.

John Lee

 

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski wants to create a new cell phone tax. It’s part of a package of tax increases and fees he says is needed to make up a budget shortfall while at the same time provide the money to pay for pressing needs in the county. 

 

The cell phone tax idea is shaping up to be one of Olszewski’s most controversial proposals.

 

 

Lauren Watley, Baltimore County Government

From a possible tax increase to new high schools, a lot is in play as Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski prepares to present his first budget to the County Council in about two weeks. 

 

Olszewski is receiving high marks for how he’s handled his first four months in office. But this era of good feeling could be tested once Olszewski lays out his budget.

 

 

John Lee

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski is remaining mum about whether he will call for tax hikes to deal with a projected $81 million shortfall. But others in county government are making the case that now may be the time to do so.

 

Let’s start with the county’s income tax rate.

 

Currently it’s at just over 2.8 percent. A report by the county council’s spending affordability committee lays out the possibility of raising that to 3.2 percent, which is the highest allowed under state law.

 

John Lee

  A commission that’s been studying Baltimore County’s budget released a preliminary report Friday which says the county should consider raising taxes. The commission is also proposing major changes to the budget process to make the county more fiscally sustainable.

 

 

Lauren Watley, Baltimore County Government

Johnny Olszewski Jr. was sworn into office Monday as Baltimore County Executive. Now he’s faced with the possibility he may need to raise taxes, cut the county budget or both.

 

This comes as Olszewski is promising a closer working relationship with the council.

 

 

John Lee

Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler will step aside on Monday, December 3, to make way for county executive-elect Johnny Olszewski Junior. WYPR reporter John Lee talked with Morning Edition host Nathan Sterner about his interview with Mohler, in which they discussed what is perhaps the biggest challenge that awaits Olszewski as he takes office.