It contains no tax rate increases.
Frederick, Md (KM). A proposed fiscal year 2019 budget for Frederick County was released on Thursday. County Executive Jan Gardner, who prepared the $608.6-million spending plan, calls it “lean, balanced and fiscally responsible.” The fiscal ’19 is balanced using existing tax rates. There are absolutely no tax increases. Tax rates remain unchanged for both property tax rates and income tax rates,” she says.
The current property tax rate is $1.96 per $100 of assessed value. The income tax rate remains at 2.96%.
Gardner says the budget “reflects modest growth of 4.6% as a result of improvements in property values and a thriving economy,” she says. “We have added 5500 new jobs over the past three years. And certainly average weekly wages are growing in the county as well..”
The County Executive says one of her budget priorities is education. “Now the proposed budget provides $12.2-million in new funding to education to Frederick County Public Schools. $5-million of that is mandated maintenance of effort. which is the minimum amount required by state law for enrollment growth. And we had 800 new students come into the school system this year which is quite significant,” she says.
Gardner also said there is money in her budget to pay for a new school system pay scale for teachers and other staff. “An additional $7.2-million above maintenance of effort is also provided,” she says.”Now I’ve worked closely through the budget process with school system leadership and staff, and I feel confident this commitment is adequate to achieve the third year phase in to implement a new sustainable pay scale for public school teachers and staff.”
Related to that, Gardner says she will continue a “rigorous schedule of school construction projects to address school overcrowding and to modernize our aging schools.”
For Frederick Community College, it will receive an additional $1.3-million in the budget to provide a step pay raise for employees. “So this additional funding will also help to create college affordability by minimizing the need to increase tuition for students,”: says Gardner. “And we know that affordability is important for students of all ages.”
When it comes to public safety, County Executive Gardner says her budget will add more call takers to the 911 Communications Center, which handled about 447,000 calls last year. “This project makes progress to move us forward toward industry staffing standards by adding five call takers,” she says. “That equates to one additional person per staff. And this will help to relieve some of the stress and the workload in 911 communications.”
And the School Health Program will receive some extra staffing. “These health professionals are very busy and it is a very stressful job. So our goal is provide more nurses. We want to reduce turnover and make sure our students are healthy and our staff is supported,” says Gardner.
Under this budget, the county’s employees will receive a little extra in their paychecks. “So in this year’s budget, I pleased to share that I’ve prioritized valuing county workers by funding a step increase for county employees. This is on average three-and-a-half-percent of the mid-point of the salary scale. I’ve also included a similar increase for our regular part time employees. In addition, I have fully funded a proposed agreement with the Frederick County fire fighters,” she says.
As a way to combat the opioid crisis, Gardner has set aside $500,000 in her budget to be used a seed money to encourage the private sector to match that amount and begin detox services in the county. There has been a need identified in the county for more substance abuse treatment and a detox center.
The County Council will hold hearings on this budget on Monday, April 16th, and Tuesday, April 17th. Both hearings will be held in the first floor meeting room of Winchester Hall beginning at 7:00 PM.
By Kevin McManus