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Proposed county budget includes $15 million for planning and design of a new Lansdowne High School

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr.’s proposed $3.4 billion budget for the county sets aside $15 million for planning and design of a new Lansdowne High School.

County officials have said previously that constructing a new high school typically costs around $100 million.

Replacing Lansdowne High, which has an uneven foundation and other issues such as ADA compliance, water damage and poor circulation, has long been a priority for community advocates and elected leaders.

Constructing a new Lansdowne High is also one of the recommendations that Sage Policy Group, an outside consulting firm, made to the Baltimore County Board of Education after completing a high school capacity study.

The $15 million in Olszewski’s proposed budget does not mean construction would start at Lansdowne, but gets the process underway.

“This will definitely move it quicker along, but we still need the state to step up and do more,” said County Council Chairman Tom Quirk, who represents Lansdowne. He was referring to a bill that passed in the Maryland House of Delegates but fizzled in the Senate, keeping the state from releasing $2 billion statewide for school construction.

The proposed budget requires approval from the County Council. The vote may become controversial, as Olszewski is proposing raising county taxes for the first time in decades. But Quirk said a tax hike is a necessary move.

Olszewski is proposing increasing the local income tax to 3.2 percent, up from 2.83 percent. The increase would put Baltimore County on par with nearby Baltimore City and Howard County, which each have a 3.2 percent rate, and with Carroll and Harford counties, which have income tax rates of more than 3 percent.

“We no longer can afford to pay for the services that we all provide and need,” Quirk said. “We have to pass this budget. It’s important for the quality of life that everybody deserves. If we want these things, we have to pay for them.”

cboteler@baltsun.com

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