County proposes $130 million budget
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.