General Fund Reserves To Increase In Frederick County

That follows a decision Tuesday night by the County Council.

Frederick, Md. (KM) – Frederick County’s general fund reserves are going up. During a meeting Tuesday night, the County Council approved a recommendation to increase¬† those revenues put in reserve¬† from 7% to 8%, The vote was 6-1 with Councilman Steve McKay in opposition.

McKay  says county revenues have been growing in recent years, and some of that money should go back to the taxpayers. “We should be doing more during good economic times when we’re generating excess revenues,”: he said. “Every time we reduce our discretionary ability in the  budget–like this will–it  takes away some of our options for actually giving back, ” he said.

Lori Depies, Chief Financial Officer, says these reserves will help the county continue to function if there’s a downtown in the economy. “You do feel that it doesn’t quite return anything to the taxpayers. I would argue that the reserve continues services to the taxpayer if something happens,” she said.

There has been talk that a recession could be imminent, says Chief Administrative Officer Rick Harcum. “Generally what happens is government revenues go down at the same time demand for services goes up,” he said. “Governments get hit twice in a recessionary economy. So having reserves in a recessionary environment is, I believe, good public policy. There’s a lot in current news media and financial media about the possibility of a recession coming.”

The County’s staff also said having more money set aside in reserves helps retain  the County’s AAA bond rating from Fitch Rating, S&P Global and Moody’s, and that keeps the interest rates low when the county goes to the bond market.

Rezonings

In other action, the Council approved two rezonings. One would reclassify 2.978 acres of land along Ballenger Creek Pike and Ballenger Run  Boulevard from agriculture to planned unit development. The plan by the developer is to construct 29 town houses on that property for a development known as Park Place at Ballenger Run. As part of their motion, the Council added an amendment that says no more than 29 homes can be built on that site.

The second rezoning covered 19.663 acres between Jefferson Pike and I-70. That property would be reclassified from agriculture to mixed use development. Plans are to construct buildings for commercial and employment use. The Council also amended their motion to allow the developer to increase the percentage of commercial development from 45% to 70%.

By Kevin McManus