Tax­pay­ers make few com­ments on county bud­get

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By CH­ERYL MATTIX

cmat­tix@ce­cil­whig.com

— Only 10 peo­ple voiced sup­port and no op­po­si­tion dur­ing a pub­lic hear­ing Thurs­day on County Ex­ec­u­tive Tari Moore’s pro­posed $183 mil­lion gen­eral fund bud­get for fis­cal year 2017, mak­ing it one of the short­est bud­get hear­ings in re­cent years.

Her pro­posed bud­get was bal­anced with a con­stant yield tax rate and use of about $2 mil­lion of the county’s unas­signed fund bal­ance.

Sparse at­ten­dance, draw­ing mostly em­ploy­ees of the li­brary, pub­lic schools or county government, was ev­i­dent by many empty seats in Elk­ton High School’s au­di­to­rium when the hear­ing started at 7 p.m.

The Ce­cil County Coun­cil can only make cuts to what

ELK­TON

Moore has pro­posed, and can­not add fund­ing.

Moore’s pro­posed bud­get seeks a year-to-year in­crease in the gen­eral fund of $4.76 mil­lion, or 2.67 per­cent, us­ing a tax rate that is 0.0007 cents above the cur­rent rate of 99.07 cents, but pro­duces the same amount of tax rev­enue, set­ting it at the stat­ede­ter­mined con­stant yield rate. The new prop­erty tax rate pro­posed for fis­cal year 2017 is 99.14 cents per $100 of as­sessed value.

Five cit­i­zens asked the coun­cil to main­tain Moore’s pro­posed fund­ing for Ce­cil County Pub­lic Schools, which came in at the min­i­mum “main­te­nance of ef­fort” level for 2017 but is still an in­crease of $859,869. Last year, Moore’s pro­posed bud­get gave the schools $4.3 mil­lion above the main­te­nance of ef­fort level.

Pub­lic school bud­get sup­port­ers em­pha­sized the im­por­tance of not cut­ting any cap­i­tal projects, since the sys­tem has years of de­layed main­te­nance projects.

Four peo­ple asked the coun­cil to sup­port Moore’s pro­posed bud­get for the pub­lic li­brary sys­tem, cit­ing its grow­ing pa­trons now at 62,000, ex­panded ser­vices and na­tional recog­ni­tion as rea­sons for sup­port, also urg­ing fund­ing for a planned new li­brary branch in North East.

A re­cent grad­u­ate of Ce­cil Col­lege’s new phys­i­cal ther­apy pro­gram asked the coun­cil to sup­port Moore’s pro­posed bud­get for the col­lege, say­ing the col­lege pro­vides a great ex­pe­ri­ence for those seeking to im­prove their ed­u­ca­tion.

“We’ll take your voices into con­sid­er­a­tion when we make our de­ci­sion June 7,” Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Robert Hodge said, af­ter ask­ing if any­one else in the au­di­ence had a com­ment.

The coun­cil de­lib­er­ated on Moore’s pro­posed op­er­at­ing bud­get Tues­day morn­ing, com­ing up with some ad­di­tional ques­tions for staff. They in­tend to meet for a fi­nal de­lib­er­a­tion at 1:30 p.m. Thurs­day to get an­swers to ques­tions and dis­cuss po­ten­tial cuts to cap­i­tal projects.

“Our in­tent this year is to elim­i­nate any ex­penses that we feel are un­nec­es­sary,” Hodge said Tues­day af­ter­noon. “We won’t make any de­ci­sions un­til Thurs­day.”

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY CH­ERYL MATTIX

A sparse crowd at­tends the an­nual pub­lic hear­ing on Ce­cil County’s pro­posed bud­get at Elk­ton High School on Thurs­day.

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