It provides $10.5-million over maintenance of effort to the school system.
A fiscal year 2017 budget with expenditures of $537-million and revenues of $548-million was introduced on Friday by Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner. The spending plan has $11-million in unallocated funds.
“To Frederick County Public Schools, I proud to say we’re making the largest budget commitment that we’ve made in at least the last eight years,” says Gardner. “It’s not the largest budget commitment ever. We certainly funded at a higher level than this when I was here before. But this budget proposed $10.5-million above maintenance of effort.”
County Executive Gardner also funded above maintenance of effort last year, but the Governor froze Geographic Cost of Education Index funding, which meant Frederick County lost $3.3-million dollars. “We didn’t make progress really in education last year,” says Gardner. “So I hope that this money will make progress so that we can make sure that all of our students have a pathway to success.”
Gardner says her budget reflects the priorities she has heard from citizens. “Citizens have told me that they want a sensible budget that supports public education and delivers top notch schools. They want to make sure we have a safe community. They want to make sure we value people, and that we maintain a high quality of life in Frederick County,” she says.
Gardner says one of her goals is public safety, and she plans to add personnel to the Sheriff’s Office. “We have added a few positions. They will start mid-year. Three new deputies: two in the courthouse and one in narcotics, and a fiscal services director,” she says.
There will also be an increase in people in the Division of Fire and Rescue Services. “So this year’s budget adds 12 new fire fighting positions; it funds a fire fighter/EMT recruit class. It supports the fire-paramedic conversation that was approved in the middle of the current fiscal year, and it provides a variety of equipment and training support,” Gardner says.
Other features include funding for a new Walkersville Branch Library, the Infant and Toddlers Program and CREST, Frederick County’s first higher education center which provides courses in science and technology fields.
Gardner says her budget does not increase the property and income tax rates, and has a modest increase of 4.5% in spending.
The County Council will hold hearings on the budget next week. On Monday, April 18th, beginning at 6:00 PM, the Council will hear testimony on the Board of Education section of the spending plan. On Tuesday, April 19th, at 7:00 PM, the Council will listen to testimony on the non-Board of Education parts of the spending plan.
The Council needs to adopt a budget by May 25th, or the one submitted by the County Executive will become law.