Updated: Aug 12, 2020
Anne Arundel County Council Chairman Allison Pickard (D), expressed satisfaction with the Fiscal Year 21 county budget which she considers “very conservative.” The District Two representative is also looking forward to introducing legislation in July that may be a game-changer for Glen Burnie.
“The administration did a good job with presenting a very conservative budget, and the council came in. and we didn't add anything to it,” Pickard said. “We didn't add any dollars to the budget. We just moved them around a little bit. putting our priorities into place.”
She said the county was fortunate that it has a budget planning process that takes place later in the year than neighboring counties like Baltimore and Prince George’s. County Executive Steuart Pittman’s budget proposal was not due until May 1.That allowed representatives and officials to react and make adjustments to the proposed budget due to the pandemic.
She considered two items to be particularly positive shifts in the budget. Funding for procurement of police body cameras was one. The county has been considering purchasing the cameras for at least two years, she said. The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis May 25 has brought the issue of police reform into sharper focus for many jurisdictions including Anne Arundel County.
The 2021 Fiscal Year county budget came in at just over $1.7 billion. A supplemental increase of $67,000 increases partial year funding related to 8 positions and related equipment for the implementation of police body cameras.
“I think that’s something that’s good for the county,” Pickard said.
According to Chris Trumbauer, director of policy and communication for the county executive office, enough body cameras will be purchased from the funding supplement to acquire a body camera for every member of the Anne Arundel County Police Department. The sheriff’s department is not receiving body cameras from the funding.
A spokesperson for the Anne Arundel County police department, said the department’s chief, Timothy Altomare, welcomes the cameras. Officers are expected to be trained on policy and procedural training as well as the actual use of the cameras.
Pickard also said a big plus in the shifting of the budget was funding for a West County elementary school. Funding for construction for the, as of yet unnamed school, is expected to commence by fiscal year 2024.
“School construction and the competing needs with both aging schools and capacity in Anne Arundel County has really lagged in the last 30 years,” she said. “So west county really needs that elementary school. I think that's really significant, especially for that county area, the Odenton-Crofton-Gambrills area.”
Pickard went on to say that she expects to introduce legislation July 20 she has been working on for six months. The legislation has been developed through her work with the department of planning and zoning as well as economic development. It is designed to revitalize the Glen Burnie business corridor of Crain Highway and Ritchie Highway. She said there may be a need to consider a “paradigm shift” in the zoning of that area.
Currently the corridor is heavily geared toward retail. Pickard said she would like to see many of the vacant lots and gas stations redeveloped.
“I think is real game-changing. Legislation,” she said. “I'm super-excited about it. It's been a lot of work, but I think it's going to be some of the most impactful legislation that my district has seen in decades.”