Prince George's County employees will go without pay raises for the fourth year in row under the budget approved by the County Council on Thursday, though they will get $2,250 in bonuses over the next two years.
The $2.68 billion budget for fiscal 2012, which the council unanimously approved, also includes a 25-cent tax hike on home sales in Prince George's.
The budget plan is a roughly $30 million increase from fiscal 2011, though county spending is nearly flat year to year. The increase includes the General Assembly-approved shift of teacher pension costs to local jurisdictions, a move that added $19.6 million to the county's bill.
Nearly all county employees will receive two one-time bonuses: $1,000 in fiscal 2012 and another $1,250 in fiscal 2013.
The bonuses are an "acknowledgement of their hard work, dedication and sacrifice without negatively impacting the county's long-term finances," said Council Chairwoman Andrea Harrison, D-Bladensburg.
Council members halved the 50-cent hike County Executive Rushern Baker proposed to recordation taxes. Now taxed at $2.75 per $500 of assessed property value, the levy is estimated to generate an additional $2.3 million in revenue.
The recordation tax hike was the only tax increase proposed by the county executive to help close a $126 million budget deficit.
"We're disappointed that [the council] didn't go for the 50-cent increase because we know long term this was going to give us more stability," said Tom Himler, the county's deputy chief administrative officer for budget, finance and administration. "Next year's going to be tough given the rising pension costs."
Beyond the compromise on the recordation tax, the County Council's adopted budget differs only slightly from the spending plan proposed by Baker months ago.
Council members gave an additional $5 million to the Department of Public Works and Transportation to build new sidewalks and crosswalks for pedestrian safety improvements, and added 20 new firefighter recruits.
Funding was also doubled to $1 million for summer youth employment programs.
And $1 million was added to the county's capital improvement plan to help fund a Prince George's African American Museum & Cultural Center in Brentwood.
Nearly two-thirds of the budget, or $1.6 billion, goes to education.