Franchot: Maryland will see “significant and historic” budget hit from pandemic

Due to the economic impacts of the pandemic disruptions, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot says he expects state government revenue to drop by as much as 25 percent heading into the next fiscal year. Local governments in Prince George’s County are already bracing for a significant reduction in revenue. 

“We know it is going to be significant and historic,” said Franchot in an March 27, 2020, interview. “It could be a 20 to 25 percent reduction in state revenues for the forseeable future.”

Franchot noted the Comptroller’s Office could not even issue a state revenue estimate for March 2020. 

“We are still flying blind,” said Franchot. “All the signals are pointing to a significant reduction in state revenue.”

Maryland has a few tools at its disposal to deal with a big reduction in state revenue. 

As the Baltimore Sun noted March 20, 2020, Maryland legislators approved an emergency measure allowing Gov. Larry Hogan to reallocate $50 million from state reserves to respond to coronavirus and, in the budget, empowered him to tap another $100 million if needed. Additionally, Franchot noted that the Maryland Board of Public Works – a body made up of the governor, the comptroller, and the treasurer, can make unilateral line-item cuts to the Maryland budget of up to 25 percent.

Data: Prince George’s grows school meals program amid pandemic

Over the first two weeks of its coronavirus-induced grab-and-go school meals program, Prince George’s County has delivered more than 34,192 meal packages to its public school students. Between March 19, when the program expanded to 36 sites, and March 27, 2020, the grab-and-go meal program distributed an average of 4,004 meals packages per day. The program, which was launched with just nine sites on March 16, 2020, under guidance from state school officials, has been widely praised by parents in the school system, and coveted by communities that lack sites. Last week, Riverdale Park sent a letter to school officials requesting a site. This week, a site was established at Riverdale Park Elementary School, as the grab-and-go meals program expanded to 43 sites.

Maryland Comptroller pushes banks for voluntary 90-day rent, mortgage relief

Because of the economic havoc wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot is urging creditors, banks and landlords to grant 90-day rent, mortgage and loan payment holidays to their borrowers and tenants, both residential and commercial. In an interview with Route 1 Reporter, Franchot also called for renters, borrowers and property-owners to also take initiative and request payment relief from their landlords and creditors. “I am told the private sector is more than happy to be responsive to Maryland businesses and families that call them and say ‘for the immediate future we need to keep any cash we have available, so give us 90 days,” said Franchot in a March 27, 2020, interview. “After that we will figure out how to make everybody whole.”

Franchot’s call is voluntary, however. He stopped short of pushing for a mandatory rent, mortagage and loan payment holiday.

Just in time: Mount Rainier closes $1.5M property sale

Just in time to avoid the possible collapse of the commercial real estate market, the City of Mount Rainier completed the sale of 3200 Rhode Island Avenue for $1.5 million to IFG Group Development and Construction. The property is approximately 33,000 square feet of vacant land the city bought more than 10 years ago for an inflation adjusted $1.1 million. IFG Group plans to build a $30 million mixed-use apartment complex. The transaction was scheduled to complete this past Friday. By Monday, the money had not yet shown up in the city’s accounts, causing some concern.