Your county tax dol­lars at work

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

As a tax­payer, you are vi­tal in help­ing Charles County Gov­ern­ment pro­vide ser­vices to our com­mu­nity. Re­view­ing the county bud­get is one way you can find out how your tax dol­lars are be­ing used. Let’s ex­plore how the bud­get process works.

Time, money and man­age­ment all play im­por­tant roles in the bud­get process. The process lasts nine months and in­volves Charles County Gov­ern­ment staff, com­mis­sion­ers and part­ner agen­cies work­ing to­gether to pro­vide rec­om­men­da­tions for the Gen­eral Fund Op­er­at­ing Bud­get adop­tion.

The bud­get process be­gins in the fall with county an­a­lysts sending out sug­ges­tions to all de­part­ments. An­a­lysts and di­rec­tors then meet and de­part­ment bud­gets are cre­ated. Each de­part­ment is as­signed an an­a­lyst to as­sist them through­out their por­tion of the process.

De­part­ments sub­mit their rec­om­men­da­tions to the county ad­min­is­tra­tor for re­view. The county ad­min­is­tra­tor uses those rec­om­men­da­tions to com­pare all bud­gets to avail­able funds. If there’s a deficit, cuts are con­sid­ered. If there’s a sur­plus, the county ad­min­is­tra­tor will con­sider new re­quests for next year.

At this stage, the county’s lead bud­get ad­vi­sors, de­part­ment di­rec­tors and the county ad­min­is­tra­tor bring the bud­get to the county com­mis­sion­ers for re­view.

A pub­lic hear­ing is held to give res­i­dents a chance to voice their opin­ions. Com­mis­sion­ers take com­ments into con­sid­er­a­tion, and ad­just the bud­get if needed be­fore ap­prov­ing. Af­ter ap­proval, the bud­get goes into ef­fect July 1, which be­gins a new fis­cal year for Charles County Gov­ern­ment.

Af­ter much time and plan­ning, the fis­cal 2018 bud­get is com­plete. The adopted bud­get to­tals more than $391 mil­lion, an in­crease of just 4.2 per­cent over fis­cal 2017. The com­mis­sion­ers adopted a bal­anced bud­get without rais­ing prop­erty tax and in­come tax rates. Fund­ing for ed­u­ca­tion and pub­lic safety ac­counts for more than 76 per­cent of the Gen­eral Fund bud­get. The bud­get adop­tion sup­ports an in­vest­ment in the County Gov­ern­ment work­force, as well as a fis­cal 2018 Cap­i­tal Projects bud­get of ap­prox­i­mately $147 mil­lion. Bud­get high­lights:

• Real prop­erty tax rate is main­tained at $1.141 for county gov­ern­ment and $0.064 for fire and res­cue per $100 of as­sessed value.

• Lo­cal in­come tax rate is main­tained at 3.03 per­cent of the state li­a­bil­ity.

•A $5 mil­lion fund­ing in­crease for Charles County Pub­lic Schools, 2.9 per­cent more than fis­cal 2017. The county’s nearly $175 mil­lion in­vest­ment — to sup­port salary raises for teacher and other pub­lic school em­ploy­ees — is the largest ever for Charles County Pub­lic Schools.

• Col­lege of South­ern Maryland fund­ing in­crease to nearly $10 mil­lion.

• A $4.6 mil­lion fund­ing in­crease for the Charles County Sher­iff’s Of­fice, 5.5 per­cent more than fis­cal 2017, to sup­port hir­ing one ad­di­tional of­fi­cer, cap­i­tal/equip­ment pur­chases and a salary in­crease for staff.

Fis­cal 2018 bud­get in­for­ma­tion and doc­u­ments are avail­able on­line at www. CharlesCoun­­get­pro­cess. We hope you will look at these re­sources and learn more about how your County Gov­ern­ment is work­ing for you.

David Ei­choltz is the Charles County Direc­tor of Fis­cal and Ad­min­is­tra­tive Ser­vices for the Charles County Gov­ern­ment.

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