County Executive Introduces $581-Million Budget

She calls it ‘fiscally responsible.’


Frederick, Md (KM). Calling it lean, sensible, balanced and fiscally responsible, Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner introduced her proposed fiscal year 2018 budget on Thursday. She said some revenues are flat this year. “While our economy is growing, we are seeing a flattening in income tax revenue and a slower pace of revenue growth into the county budget. So the proposed budget has a modest increase of 3.9% over the current year. And that’s slightly lower than the 4.5% growth we experienced a year ago,” she says.

But Gardner says there is some good news. “This budget has no tax rate increases,” she says. “Tax rates will be held steady.” The County’s property tax rate is $1.06 per $100 assessed value.

The operating budget totals $581.9-million, which is about $21-million more than the fiscal year 2017 spending plan.

Gardner says her budget provides a “record amount for public education,” $272.2-million, which is $14-million more than f.y. 2017. “This is less money than we were requested by the Board of Education in their budget. But I have been working closely with {Superintendent of Schools} Dr. {Theresa} Alban and the school system budget staff, and I have been advised that this $10-million above MOE {Maintenance of Effort} will be enough to fully fund the second-year phase of the new pay scale, coupled with available money identified within FCPS’ budget,” Gardner says. The School Board is implementing a new salary scale to help make school system employees’ salaries more competitive.

She also says Frederick Community College is receiving $700,000 to pay for a cost of living increase for employees. “These additional dollars also help to keep college affordability minimized. Instead of raising tuition for  the salary increase, they’re provided with county dollars to do that,” says Gardner.

Another area of funding in the budget is public safety. “In the Sheriff’s Office, the budget proposes eight new correctional officer positions,” says Gardner. “This was the Sheriff’s top budget priority. These positions are needed in part to refill six correctional officer positions eliminated during the recession during the prior administration.”

The Sheriff’s Office will also get four new deputy positions. “This is to make sure we can respond to increased calls for service, ensure effective law enforcement and citizen protection,” Gardner says.. “Additionally, these new deputies are needed as the Sheriff’s Office continues to pick up more responsibilities from the Maryland State Police, and to combat the growing drug problem in our community.”

Gardner says her budget will also add 12 new fire fighter positions, eight new positions with the 911 Emergency Communications Center,  and an Assistant Animal Care Supervisor and Kennel Supervisor at the Frederick County  Animal Control office.

There’s also a 2% cost of living adjustment for all county employees. The budget  will pay for  two in-home health aides for senior citizens, and support for the Meals-On-Wheels program.

The County Council will hold hearings on the budget on Tuesday,  April 18th, and Monday,  April 24th. The panel is expected to vote on the budget and the property tax rate in May.


By Kevin McManus