- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 27, 2003

Prince George's County yesterday became the first local jurisdiction to present its budget since President Bush announced Tuesday that the federal government will provide $4.2 billion to cities and states for homeland security.
But County Executive Jack Johnson expressed little confidence in receiving any of those funds.
"The president may have said it, but I haven't seen [the money]," Mr. Johnson said during a news conference at the County Administration Building in Upper Marlboro.
The county's budget includes a 3.1 percent income-tax increase, which the county executive hopes will raise about $4.3 million for fiscal 2004.
Maryland law allows counties to increase their piggyback income tax by 3.2 percent, but county officials said they did not feel the full increase is necessary.
Prince George's County's piggyback tax currently is 3.1 percent of adjusted gross income. The proposed increase would raise the county's income tax to 3.1961 percent of adjusted gross income. The state's current highest piggyback tax is Somerset County's, at 3.15 percent.
In addition to the tax increase, the budget contains several initiatives, including $5 million for road resurfacing and sidewalk improvements in neighborhoods, and $300,000 for street cleaning and litter control.
A new Office of Homeland Security is among the initiatives, but no dollar amount is included because officials aren't sure how much it will cost.
Jacqueline Brown, chief administrative officer for the county's Office of Homeland Security, said her agency should not require significant funding for organization, but she expects local jurisdictions will "feel the pinch" when police officers and firefighters respond to heightened alerts.
"What we are projecting is that we would like at least 70 percent of that cost to come from homeland security funds," Mrs. Brown said, adding that the president's $4.2 billion proposal will not meet that projection.
"The problem is that it has to be sustained over time," Mrs. Brown said. "Most of us in local jurisdictions can handle things in a crisis state for a while, but now we are committed to Iraq. Now we are committed to war. A Code Orange in wartime for a prolonged time is different that a Code Orange without war."
According to the county charter, the County Council must adopt the budget for next fiscal year on or before June 1. The council will review the proposed budget, meet with individual agencies and departments and hold public hearings.

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