The Council also set the property tax rate.
Frederick, Md (KM) A fiscal year 2024 budget totaling more than $893-million was adopted Tuesday night by the Frederick County Council. The vote was 5-2 with Councilman Mason Carter opposed. “This is not sustainable at all. This is not helping out the county. It’s regressive in nature,” he said.
Councilman Steve McKay also said the budget is unsustainable. He said the County is using surpluses from fiscal years 2021 and 2022 totaling $49-million. “Even if our expenditures grow a small number—like five-percent, six percent, seven percent—we’re going to need much larger increases in revenue because we have to make up for the non-recurring revenue that we’re spending this year that’s contributing to our base budget which won’t be there next year,”; he says.
Council President Brad Young this increases spending in the budget is the result of a growing economy. “What’s not sustainable to not have the resources we need in our educational system. It’s not sustainable to have the resources we need in parks, in our roads, in our police department, in our fire and rescue. These needs are there and are growing,” he says.
That comment was echoed by Councilwoman MC Keegan-Ayer. “The County is growing, and with growth comes demand for services,” she said.
The Council also voted to keep the property tax rate at $1.06 per $100 of assessed value.
Fiscal year 2024 begins on July 1st, 2023.
Prior to voting on the budget, the Council approved an ordinance which increases the threshold on the highest income tax rate in the County. The vote was 4-3.
The ordinance says the rate for taxpayers who file as “single status” (single, married filing separately, and dependent) and have net taxable income, of between $1 and $25,000 will be have a 2.25 percent rate. Taxpayers who file as “single status” and have a net income of between $25,000 and not exceeding $50,000 will have tax rate of 2.75 percent. For taxpayers who also file “single status” with a net taxable income of between $50,001 and not exceeding $150,000 will have a 2.96 percent rate. Those also filing :”single status” with net taxable income of $150,001 or more will be subject to a 3.2 percent rate. The 2.25 percent will be charged to those filing as “joint status” (including joint, head of household or qualified widow) and have a net taxable income of between $1 and not exceeding $25,000. Taxpayers who file “joint status,” and have a net taxable income between $25,001 and not exceeding $100,000 will be assessed at 2.75 percent. Taxpayer filing as “joint status” and have a net taxable income of between $100,001 and not exceeding $250,000 will be subject to 2.96 percent rate. And those filing as “joint status> and having a net taxable income of $250,001 or more. will be subject to 3.2 percent rate.
This ordinance takes affect upon adoption.
This new income tax rate means the County will take in $3.5-million less in revenue in fiscal year 2024.
During public testimony, Carol Antoniwitz said the School System needs more money. “So I’m really asking you all to make a commitment publicly to funding the schools, to funding the needs assessment in the original budget and the housing director position;’ she said.
Jeff Holtzinger told the Council that accountability is lacking in the School System and County Government. “You have about a million dollars of executive staff over and above the regular county staff,” he said. “I’m not talking about administrative staff coming over from the Board of County Commissioners form of government. I think you’d have a hard time explaining to me or anyone what those folks do eight hours a day for county residents.”
In other action, the Council voted down a measure to provide any surplus from the County budget to the board of Education.
By Kevin McManus