Public Comment at the County Budget Hearing
I was waiting for the County to post the video on the website (http://www.princegeorgescountymd.gov), and staff claim that is has been posted, but I can’t locate it. My public comments to the County Executive and his budget team are posted here, and I hope I’ll be able to locate the video soon so you can view all of the feedback that residents provided at this hearing. Feel free to post a comment if you’re able to find the link to the hearing. Thanks!
Good evening County Executive Baker, honorable elected officials, County staff, and fellow residents. I live in Accokeek, MD, and I represent myself, my husband and 2 young children. We are 8-year residents of White Hall Forest.
My primary reason for being here is that I am a concerned parent worried about funding for our schools. I’d like to make a couple of quick points that I encourage you to consider:
- Superintendent Hite has proposed many cuts to the classroom that will hurt our children. When I did a little research, I learned that more than 700 PGCPS staff make more than $100,000, and only 51 of those employees are directly involved in educating our children. Many admin staff are mid-level bureaucrats who make the same salary as you, Mr. Baker, and have far less responsibility for our county’s future. Please work with Dr. Hite to look at where else cuts can be made in administrative areas before our classrooms.
- In making this point, I also want to let you know my husband and I are public servants who, for the past three years, have endured two-week furloughs, increased health care costs, no pay raises, and no cost-of-living increases. We are Ivy-league educated, highly experienced professionals who could certainly work elsewhere if we wanted six-figure salaries. We chose public service because we love it, and we understand that when times are tight we must make sacrifices for the greater good of the organization. We need to make sure that our school administrators are doing the same, and not crying wolf by putting valuable programs on the chopping block to get the state’s attention, because if the state doesn’t deliver, all that is accomplished with these cuts is stealing our teacher’s joy in the classroom and robbing our children of an education.
My other concern is making sure that the County takes further action to strategically align budgetary priorities with your campaign promises in the Pledge for Prince George’s County. In particular, I want more action on moving toward an open and transparent government. I am a government communications professional, and I know for sure that the Office of Information Technology and Communications should be working together with your staff on this objective. It will require a little money, and a lot of dedication to do it. Here are some initiatives I would like to see:
- Record and post all government meetings online. If I can’t be at the Council, Committee, or Commission meetings, at least I can stay engaged.
- Maintain regular dialogue with residents. This hearing is a good opportunity for that, but as you know, few will seek out this meeting information or dig through press releases on the website to find out. Use your social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, not only to post information but to engage in conversation about County issues, because that’s what social media is intended for.
- Set up web comment boards, so if residents can’t attend meetings to provide input on an issue as important as our budget, ideas can be submitted online for consideration. I am very happy that your ACI Advisory Board has already done that.
Develop a roadmap for getting to 311, which provides one front door to our county’s government. Residents shouldn’t have to sort through 500 phone numbers and multiple departments to fulfill a service request. Offering 311 by phone, online, and through a mobile app on smartphones will let us access services, anywhere and anytime. Let’s get it done, and thank you for your time.