Kamenetz presents his FY 2015 budget to Council
Wednesday, 23 April 2014 13:21

The county budget calls for $6 million to renovate the old Eastwood Center school for the relocation of the North Point Police precinct.
photo by Ben Boehl

Construction of new schools is leading focus

by Ben Boehl

    School construction funding led the list of priorities last week when Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz presented his Fiscal 2015 budget message to members of the Baltimore County Council.
    Highlights for the Greater Dundalk area include the construction of two elementary schools,  funding to renovate the old Eastwood Center school to serve as the new home of North Point Police Precinct 12, and the installation of a new artificial turf athletic field at Dundalk High School.
    Kamenetz pointed out to the council that all county projects will move forward with no increases in the county’s property or income tax rates.
     The property tax rate has remained steady for the past 26 years, while the income tax rate remains unchanged for the 22nd year in a row.
    The county executive added that Baltimore County has maintained its Triple AAA bond rating, which he said makes the county one of only 38 counties in the nation to achieve that status.
    “As with each budget that I have presented during my term, the county’s FY ‘15 budget proposal falls below the spending affordability guidelines established by the County Council,” Kamenetz said.
    “The General Fund Operating Budget presented today is $1.75 billion, which, after reflecting spending affordability review, is an increase of just 3.85 percent above the previous year.
    “The FY 15 capital budget is $175.7 million and adheres within sound financial debt ratios.”
    Kamenetz announced $1.1 billion in the school budget for school renovations across the county.
    The budget calls for funding of a new 700-seat replacement school for Berkshire Elementary on its current site and the funding of a new 700-seat elementary school in the Battle Grove/Charlesmont communities, which will be an addition to Battle Grove and Charlesmont elementary schools.
    “Eighty percent of our schools are more than 40 years old, and our school population is projected to increase by more than 9,300 students [between 2010 and 2020],” Kamenetz said.
    “We can be proud of the unprecedented commitment we’ve made to address school renovation and construction needs over the past three and a half years.”
    With the North Point Government Center in the process of being sold to a private developer and the North Point police precinct scheduled to move to the Eastwood site, Kamenetz announced that $6 million will be spent on renovating the Eastwood building for use as the new police station.
    Kamenetz added that over $9 million will be assigned for parks and preservation.
    Approximately $2 million will be used to install turf fields at Towson High School, Catonsville Regional Park and the new football stadium being built on the site of the now-demolished Dundalk High School.
    The county also announced 23 miles of new bikeways in Dundalk, Towson, Lansdowne, Baltimore Highlands, Woodlawn, Catonsville and Arbutus.
    “Since 2010, we also have invested in several ‘quality of life’ projects throughout the county,” Kamenetz noted.
    This will be the 16th and the final budget voted on by 7th District Councilman John Olszewski Sr., who is not seeking re-election  and will leave office when his current term expires in December.
    Olszewski said that one of his strongest traits as a councilman has been working with all members of the council, including former Republican councilmen such as Wayne Skinner and Bryan McIntyre and current Republican members David Marks and Todd Huff.
    “When you have a good working relationship instead of an adversarial relationship, that’s when things get done,” Olszew-ski noted.