It contains no new positions or expansion of services.
Frederick, Md (KM) A “lean and conservative” budget for fiscal year 2021 was released on Wednesday by Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner. She says the spending plan, which totals $665.8-million dollars contains no increases in the property and income tax rates. “We’re expecting our revenues, particularly the income tax revenues, to take a hit due to the economic fallout from the coronavirus,” she said.
She says the income tax, which account 35% of the revenue coming in, have dropped from their original projections when planning for the fiscal year 2021 budget began last year. “In fact, fiscal year 2021 is actually based on income tax revenue from fiscal year ’19. So we’ve gone back to where we were two years ago,” she said. “So this is significantly lower than what we had planned to project, but we do believe it is prudent for us to be conservative.”
As a result of that, Gardner says her budget is funding essential services with no new positions or expansion of services or new initiatives. The only exceptions are the addition of 13 fire fighter and emergency medical technicians to staff the new Northgate Fire Station on the Northwest side of the City of Frederick.
In her budget presentation, Gardner said none of the budget appeals will be considered this year. “I am providing the County Council with information on all the budget appeals. But I’ve decided this is simply not the right time to expand services or add staff to meet growing demand, no matter how justified it may be,” she says.
But the good news, Gardner says, is that she has managed to build up the county;s reserves since she took office. “To be clear, I’m not presenting a budget today that proposes tapping into these reserves. But I want people to know that we have saved money, and that money is there if it should be needed,” she says.
Gardner says education is still her top priority in the budget. “The budget funds the Board of Education $7-million above maintenance of effort,” she says. “This ultimately provides the Board of Education with equivalent dollars for salary increases, and maintains my commitment to continue to fund approximately half of all new revenue towards education.”
The County Council will hold a virtual public hearing on the budget on Tuesday, April 21st beginning at 6:00 PM.
Gardner says she would like to take a look at the spending plan later this year or early next year. . “It is my hope and intention that once the pandemic has passed, we will be able to revisit the budget, revisit our revenue projections with greater certainly and consider some additional budget decisions,” she says. Tha t may include drafting a supplemental budget.
By Kevin McManus