Your county tax dollars at work
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. CharlesCountyMD.gov/budgetprocess. 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.