Frederick County Council Adopts Fiscal Year 2023 Budget, Property Tax Rate

They go into affect on July 1st.

Frederick, Md. (KM) – A fiscal year 2023 budget totaling $792-million was adopted Tuesday night by the Frederick County Council. The vote was 4-2 with Councilmen Phil Dacey and Steve McKay voting in opposition.

Dacey said he’s concerned that spending plan is 10.2% more that the current budget. “We’re growing the rate of county government in what we do at a rate that is not really sustainable,” he said.

“1999, which wasn’t that long ago, the budget was $199-million for the county,” Dacey continues. “In 22 years, we’ve quadrupled the budget if we vote for this budget this year.” He said he would have preferred a much slower growth rate for county government.

Councilman Jerry Donald, who made the passing motion in support of the budget, said it moves forward several projects. “It moves forward Valley Elementary School. It starts to put aside money for the whole Middletown campus and school system,” he said. “We’re using some of these moneys that we are getting to do things that need to be done.”

In her comments, Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater said this budget reflects the needs of a growing county. “We are growing because the needs are growing,” she said. “The budget is doing what the county residents have asked for.”

Prior to the vote on the budget, the Council set the property tax rate for fiscal year 2023. By a vote of 4-2, the rate will remain at $1.06 per $100 of assessed value. The constant yield rate is $1.0244 per $100 of assessed value.

Councilman Steve McKay voted “no.” He said over the past few  years, the county has taken in $200-million in surplus revenue, and it’s time give some of that back to the taxpayers. “We can do more. We should do more. And one way we can do more is by lowering our property tax rate. And that’s why I’ll be opposing the dollar six tonight,” he said.

In response, Council President MC Keegan-Ayer said this additional revenue is needed to help pay for services in a growing county. “I’m not sure how you meet demands and the needs of the community which continues to grow by scaling back your revenue stream,” she said.

Also voting in opposition was Councilman Dacey, who said higher property assessments and inflation are taking their toll on citizens. “Inflation is hitting households as well. It’s not a good time for them to be paying a lot more for property taxes as well on top of the inflation that’s taken a bite out of their monthly budgets,” he said.

But Donald said there are programs to help people who are having difficulty paying their property taxes. “The property tax revenues actually has caps on it. When you get an increase in your assessment, it’s phased in over three years. Plus we have caps that. We have available programs, the Homestead Tax Credit, and things that our fixed income people can come in and apply for,” he said. “So I think we have a number of ways to mitigate problems for people on fixed incomes with property tax issues.”

Both the budget and the property tax rate go into affect on July 1st, the first day of fiscal year 2023.

By Kevin McManus