Taxpayers make few comments on county budget
— 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
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.”
A sparse crowd attends the annual public hearing on Cecil County’s proposed budget at Elkton High School on Thursday.