Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How the Counties Spend Your Money, Part Three

Today, we examine total and per capita county spending in three categories: fire and rescue/emergency medical services, law enforcement and health/human services/housing.

Here is total and per capita spending on fire and rescue/EMS by county.

In per capita terms, the leaders on fire and rescue are Howard County ($299.28), Baltimore City ($245.94) and Queen Anne’s County ($212.44). The lowest-spending counties are St. Mary’s ($51.50) and Allegany ($58.06). Does it really cost six times as much to provide fire and rescue service in Howard as it does in St. Mary’s?

Here is total and per capita spending on law enforcement, including police, sheriff and corrections functions, by county.

These statistics are colored by two factors. First, only seven jurisdictions have full-fledged police departments. In the others, the sheriff assumes broader law enforcement responsibilities. Second, Baltimore City’s correction costs are completely assumed by the state government. Even so, the city’s per capita spending on law enforcement ($573.48) blew away everyone else. Surprisingly, Charles County ($456.40) was number two, followed by Prince George’s County ($439.56). Three out of the four lowest spenders were in Western Maryland.

Here is total and per capita spending on health, human services and housing by county.

Baltimore City spends more on these services per capita ($380.58) than any other jurisdiction. But the real story here is the enormous gap between Montgomery ($332.32), which is second only to Baltimore City, and Prince George’s ($43.82), which is third-to-last. Back in 2008, the Post noted the lack of non-profit service in Prince George’s and how non-profits in neighboring jurisdictions had to pick up the slack. Our statistics strongly suggest that Montgomery spends large amounts of resources to take care of Prince George’s residents in need. So long as generous Montgomery is right next door, Prince George’s County can save a lot of money.

We’ll have more tomorrow.