Hyattsville’s 2020 vision comes into focus

By BEN SIMASEK — For the first time in nine years, Hyattsville has proposed a balanced budget. In fiscal year (FY) 2020, the city’s total projected revenues of $20.726 million cover $20.724 million in proposed spending. Beyond tapping into revenues collected through taxes and fees, city staff have found efficient ways to cover program costs through grants, in-kind partnerships, and other savings and offsets.

On March 27, City Treasurer Ron Brooks, City Administrator Tracey Douglas, and each city department head presented their budgetary priorities before the city council and mayor. Each department shared an overview of its planned expenditures for next year and highlighted its ongoing programming from FY 2019. “Not only will we try to accomplish everything that you’ve identified in FY 2020, but we want to show you that the things that we started in FY 2019 will continue,” said Douglas.

Hyattsville has proposed to hire nine new full-time positions and six part-time staff in 2020 to support key priorities. Among the new full-time staff, a new community development coordinator will advise the city on affordable housing issues. The Clean and Safe Team, initiated in FY 2019 to advance public health and safety, will grow with new hires next year. The Department of Community Services will hire a program lead for its Age-Friendly Initiative, and the Hyattsville City Police Department (HCPD) will bring aboard a training and accreditation manager.

Hyattsville will maintain its community offerings in child and youth services. The city hopes to expand participation in the teen center and the mentoring program launched last year, and also in immigrant services and school partnerships.

Infrastructure investments make up a large portion of the budget. The Department of Public Works will continue to pave streets and sidewalks, with ongoing projects in University Hills, West Hyattsville and Ward 4 scheduled through 2020. The city is renovating its Department of Public Works facility and constructing a new police headquarters at 3505 Hamilton Street.

Public safety is a high priority. Police and public safety make up the largest slice of the budget at 38 percent. The HCPD plans to fill several key positions over the next year. In addition to building the new headquarters, HCPD plans to expand its surveillance camera capabilities and launch a firearms buyback program in FY 2020. HCPD’s budget also demonstrates its commitment to continual investment in training and community outreach initiatives.

Hyattsville’s 2020 budget will help bolster its image as a green city, with a range of investments in parks, outdoor spaces and environmental initiatives. Funds have been designated for an analysis of restoring the urban tree canopy, an upgrade to energy-efficient LED lighting, expansion of the composting program and improvements to stormwater management.

Continuing efforts initiated last year, Hyattsville plans to pay for a Magruder Park “reimagined” design and evaluate the legality and feasibility of changing the name of the park. The capital improvements budget has earmarked $1 million for improvements to Magruder Park and $500,000 for Heurich Park in 2020.

The findings from last year’s transportation study have spurred the city to budget for several upgrades. Transportation-related priorities include better connectivity for cyclists and pedestrians, increased transit accessibility for the elderly and disabled, and improved traffic flow in school zones and streets.

The proposed FY 2020 budget lays out Hyattsville’s roadmap toward its future. According to councilmembers Tom Wright and Joseph Solomon, next year’s budget will likely be voted on once the new city council session commences after the May 7 election.

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