BY SOPHIE GORMAN ORIANI
On March 29, the Hyattsville City Council met for a presentation and work session on the proposed budget for fiscal year 2024, as well as for an update on the status of the funds allocated to the City of Hyattsville from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA).
According to the presentation, the total proposed operating budget for fiscal year 2024 is projected to be $51.3 million, with $30.3 million in expenditures from the general fund, and the rest in special revenue funds or capital improvement funds.
The proposed budget projects receiving only $24.5 million in revenues, so in order to present a balanced budget, it includes a transfer of $5.8 million from the general fund reserve balance, which is currently estimated at $28.2 million.
In the cover letter introducing the budget, City Administrator Tracey Douglas cautioned against allowing city services to continue to grow unchecked, as staff were already operating at or near capacity. “As new programs, priorities, and services are added, the city will need to work harder to prioritize and identify what ongoing services can or should be reduced or eliminated,” she wrote, warning against an “unsustainable trajectory of increased spending.”
According to the city, the largest category of spending in the general fund is for police and public safety, at just over $12 million, or 40% of the fund. The second largest category is public works, at just over $7 million, or 24%.
In response to questions from councilmembers, City Treasurer Ron Brooks noted that the capital improvement fund is more akin to a wishlist than to what one might typically think of as a budget. As the projects falling under capital improvement may not all happen in one year, many of the funds may not be spent.
Expenditures over $10,000 must be approved by the city council, regardless of whether they are from the general fund or the capital improvement fund.
Hyattsville still has about half of the nearly $18 million in ARPA funds to allocate. During the discussion of how to best use these funds, several councilmembers echoed Douglas’ concern about increased spending, and said that they hesitated to choose programs that would incur costs into the future, after the ARPA funds were all spent.
The budget and ARPA allocations will receive further discussion at the April 17 city council meeting.