County pro­poses $130 mil­lion bud­get

Record Observer - - Front Page - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­times.com

CEN­TRE­VILLE — The Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sion­ers are propos­ing an al­most $130 mil­lion op­er­at­ing bud­get for fis­cal 2017, up from just over $125 mil­lion this year.

The com­mis­sion­ers voted 4-1 to in­tro­duce the draft op­er­a­tional bud­get dur­ing the Tues­day, April 12, meet­ing, with Com­mis­sioner Jack Wil­son vot­ing against. They unan­i­mously voted in fa­vor of the draft cap­i­tal bud­get.

The com­bined bud­gets for fis­cal 2017 to­tal about $165 mil­lion. The op­er­at­ing bud­get pro­posal is an in­crease $4,786,105, or 3.8 per­cent, from the ap­proved fis­cal 2016 bud­get of $125,160,950.

The com­mis­sion­ers’ pro­posal calls for main­tain­ing the cur­rent prop­erty tax rate of $0.8471 per $100 of as­sessed value, which will re­sult in in­creased rev­enue of $822,711 as prop­erty val­ues have in­creased 1.3 per­cent. Based on the in­creased as­sess­able tax base, the con­stant yield rate would be $0.8363 per $100 of value. So, main­tain­ing the cur­rent rate means prop­erty own­ers will pay more in taxes.

Com­mis­sioner Jack Wil­son said he voted against the op­er­a­tional bud­get be­cause he didn’t like some of the spend­ing and he was op­posed to not us­ing the con­stant yield rate. Com­mis­sioner Robert Buckey said he also was in fa­vor of us­ing the con­stant yield rate.

“At that point in the bud­get, when I brought it up we had the abil­ity there, we had the money there to give it, and we didn’t,” Wil­son said.

“I just think it’s our re­spon­si­bil­ity when we have the op­por­tu­nity, be­cause we don’t al­ways have the op­por­tu­nity to give a tax break to the citizens, but I think when we have the op­por­tu­nity, we should.”

The cur­rent in­come tax rate of 3.2 per­cent will re­main the same. That tax also is bring­ing in in­crease rev­enue and makes up the dif­fer­ence in the bud­get in­crease, ac­cord­ing to County Ad­min­is­tra­tor Greg Todd.

Pro­posed de­part­men­tal bud­gets in­clude: ad­min­is­tra­tion, $5,222,911; com­mu­nity ser­vices, 3,085,378; plan­ning and zon­ing, $1,965,144; pub­lic safety, $13,008,931; pub­lic works, $9,880,624; parks, $3,636,931; board of ed­u­ca­tion, $53,787,293; and “other agen­cies,” $20,088,293. In­creases were seen in all but plan­ning and zon­ing, which has a pro­posed de­crease of $161,703 (7.6 per­cent) due to re­al­lo­ca­tion of em­ploy­ees to dif­fer­ent de­part­ments, Todd said.

In the ad­min­is­tra­tion bud-

get, a 33 per­cent in­crease, $295,346, is pro­posed for in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy. Sev­eral em­ploy­ees from plan­ning and zon­ing were moved to bud­get, fi­nance and IT. An­other ma­jor is seen in the parks bud­get with an in­crease of 7.3 per­cent, $247,306, from FY 2016.

The com­mis­sion­ers’ pro­posed school bud­get of $53,787,293 is an in­crease of $937,000 from this year’s bud­get and more than the main­te­nance of ef­fort num­ber, but less than the $57,218,761 re­quested by the Queen Anne’s County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion. The school board’s to­tal pro­posed bud­get, in­clud­ing state and other rev­enue sources, is $91,337,227.

Un­der main­te­nance of ef­fort, a state law that re­quires each county to spend as much per stu­dent as it did the pre­vi­ous year, Queen Anne’s would be re­quired to fund the school board at $52,733,652.79 at a cost per stu­dent of $7,067.67. The pro­posed bud­get would in­crease that num­ber for next year.

The pro­posed to­tal for all cap­i­tal projects is $35,880,988 for fis­cal 2017.

Ma­jor cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­tures in­clude $1,219,129 to fur­ther the board of ed­u­ca­tion’s tech­nol­ogy plan, $7,000,000 for the new cir­cuit court­house project — $1 mil­lion from paygo, $5 mil­lion from bonds, and $1 mil­lion from cap­i­tal — and $9,615,000 for var­i­ous as­pects of the South­ern Kent Is­land sewer project.

Paygo is when money from the county’s fund bal­ance is left over at the end of the fis­cal year and is used to­ward cap­i­tal projects in the next year, Todd said.

The county al­lo­cated $416,667 in cap­i­tal money to the vol­un­teer fire de­part­ments.

Let­ters out­lin­ing the draft bud­get were sent to county res­i­dents on April 13. Bud­get hear­ings are set for Bay­side El­e­men­tary School, 301 Church St., Stevensville, on April 25; Lib­erty Build­ing, 107 N. Lib­erty St., Cen­tre­ville, on April 26; and Sudlersville Mid­dle School, 600 Charles St., Sudlersville, on April 27. All three hear­ings be­gin at 7 p.m. The April 26 meet­ing also will be the hear­ing for the pro­posed prop­erty tax rate.

Fol­low Mike Davis on Twit­ter: @mike_k­ibay­times.

PHOTO BY DOUG BISHOP

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