County Executive Fields Public Comments on FY19 Budget
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 14, 2018
County Executive Fields Public Comments on FY19 Budget
ELKTON, MD. -- A crowd of roughly fifty citizens filled the Elk Room at the Cecil County Administration Building on Tuesday evening to lend their views on Cecil County's FY19 Budget. County Executive Alan McCarthy invited the public to speak and individually express their opinions on what the County should fund and where monies should to be allocated for the coming fiscal year.
Prior to the public comment portion of the evening, Budget Manager Rebecca Anderson offered a presentation explaining the budgeting process timeline and how Governor Hogan's ever fluctuating state proposed budget impacts Cecil County overall. Anderson reminded everyone that the proposed state budget dictates that the County will pay 90% of the cost of the State Department of Assessment and Taxation's (SDAT) work in Cecil County.
"Although the Governor's budget seeks to reinstate a small portion of Highway User Revenues in the form of grants, the Cecil County proposed share for FY19 is $653,662," explained Anderson. "When you compare this amount to the state funding levels of ten years ago, it is a difference of $5 million dollars."
Anderson walked the audience through operating costs (in regards to SDAT), property tax rates and value assessments. She explained that the County's budget is also dependent on changes in the Federal tax code for 2018 for the state and any change in Maryland income tax laws could result in a change for Cecil County -- our second largest revenue stream.
Anderson demonstrated a then-and-now analysis on the County's overall fund balance from FY13 to FY17, pointing out that there was a $10 million dollar deficit during that time. With fiscal stability being a top priority for McCarthy, it was decided early on in his administration that the County's savings account could no longer be a funding source.
A breakdown of FY18's County expenses shows that 52% was allocated to Cecil County Public Schools, Cecil College and Cecil County Public Libraries; 20% went to public safety including the Sheriff's Office, Detention Center, Emergency Services, Permits and Inspections and Animal Services; 8% for debt services (both principal and interest); and 6% to state agencies including Circuit Court, State's Attorney's Office and the Board of Elections.
"The remaining 14% of the general fund budget must be split between all of the remaining County functions and services, excluding Solid Waste and Wastewater which operate on independent enterprise funds," Anderson continued. "I would be remiss if I did not point out that 43% of this remaining budget is allocated to Public Works for the the administration of items such as stormwater management, capital improvement projects and the entire Roads Division."
Anderson ended her presentation by reiterating the focus on the five key priorities of the strategic plan: economic development, fiscal stability, education, infrastructure and safe, healthy and active communities.
"The County is facing many challenges in the upcoming fiscal year," she added. "It is Dr. McCarthy's expectation that this budget proposal will support the goals of this administration and the necessary services that our citizens expect and deserve."
Director of Administration Al Wein then began the roll call of seventeen speakers, each given three minutes to verbalize their wants, needs and expectations for the County Executive and Council members going in to FY19's budget proposal and process.
Representatives from the Maryland and Cecil County chapters of the Campaign for Liberty adamantly spoke to demand a relief in taxes, citing that further increases in taxes would force many lifelong citizens out of the County.
Tim Carnill of Elkton suggested a "1% tax cut across the board" as a solution to managing the County's budget. A reduction in allocations to Cecil County Public Schools was also recommended by constiuents.
Elkton resident Josh Rhoades pleaded for no more tax increases or increased fees, also adding, "No more parks. We have no time to enjoy them anyway. We're out working to pay bills."
Cecil County Public Schools and Cecil County Library were not without supporters however. Dr. Mary Way Bolt, President of Cecil College, explained that continued funding and support will allow the College to continue to offer opportunities for students to obtain certification and degrees, which ultimately results in an increase in salaries.
Brenna St. John, a Port Deposit resident and parent of two children who benefit from various special education programs provided by Cecil County Public Schools, expressed the importance of the school system to her family. "Without this special education support, a considerable number of children, my sons included, would have fallen behind and not have met with this success both academically and socially."
When describing the continued need of financial support for Cecil County Public Library, county resident Jamie Daley discussed how invaluable libraries were to her growing up in a foster family and as a child of drug addicted parents. "I am a highly educated, lifelong learner because of a library."
Ken Wiggins, President of the CCPL Board of Trustees, praising the organizations bond with the County Executive and the County Council, noting that they are "very fortunate to have such a positive, working relationship with our county government and we hope to continue our partnership for Cecil County."
McCarthy closed the session with gratitude and recognition stating, "From the depths of my heart, I appreciate you all coming out tonight and taking your time to prepare and share your views on county government. Members of my staff and I will consider everything you said tonight, the information you provided and your opinions, as we move forward in the 2019 budget development process."
The County Executive is scheduled to submit his Proposed Budget and Capital Improvement Program to the County Council on March 30, 2018.
If you were unable to attend last night's session and you would like to listen to the audio recordings, or to view the Budget Manager's presentation, visit http://www.ccgov.org/Home/Components/Calendar/Event/3983/20.
For more information, contact:
Public Information Officer