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Baker vetoes Prince George's County park tax hike | News

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Baker vetoes Prince George's County park tax hike
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OXON HILL, Md. (WUSA9) -- Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker Monday vetoed a 1.5% increase in property taxes passed by the County Council to fund parks and recreation.

"That's not the priority of the county," said Baker.

Instead Baker advocates that 100% of any property tax increase should go to a strategic plan to turn around Prince George's troubled school system.

County Council Chairman Mel Franklin said Baker's veto is "fiscally irresponsible" because it will cost more to end a structural deficit in parks spending if a tax hike is delayed.

Franklin predicted the veto will be overridden by the council immediately.

Meanwhile, Baker has until June 16 to decide whether or not to veto the rest of the council budget which calls for an additional 4% property tax hike to fund teacher pension obligations the state will no longer pay. The council provided no additional local revenue for classroom education.

For Baker it has been a resounding rejection of his strategic plan to move Prince George's schools from the bottom of state rankings into the top ten within 5 years. Baker had called for a 15.6% property tax hike for schools while also proposing layoffs of 115 county employees and furloughs. The highly unpopular plan got no support from the nine-member county council.

"Education is the one area in Prince George's County where we have consistently fallen down," Baker said Monday. "We've improved in pubic safety, we've improved in health, we've improved in economic development. The thing we have left is education."

Baker said he and the council have a "fundamental disagreement" on priorities for the future of the county.

"We concluded a 15.6% increase in taxes was unaffordable for residents recovering from the housing crisis," said Franklin.

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