On Tuesday, the Talbot County Council approved a $66 million budget which includes the elimination of 16 positions and a $1 million transfer from the county’s capital fund to the operating fund to balance the 2012 fiscal year spending plan. The Star Democrat reports:
Among changes made Tuesday night:
• The council used about $67,000 from the contingency fund to balance it, mostly to correct a few oversights.
• They added about $17,000 back into the cooperative extension office budget to bring it in line with the percentage cut from other department appropriations.
• They also added in $10,000 salary for a part-time housing officer and $5,000 for housing department operations. The council originally would have cut the department entirely, but responded to public outcry by maintaining a part-time position. The full-time housing coordinator position was eliminated.
• Another $20,000 was appropriated to the county health department, much of which is designated to cover cancer screenings and prescription help for low-income county residents.
“Every family knows the economic situation we face,” Bartlett said. “Very few of us are fortunate enough not to have felt the sting of this economy. Our role as elected officials in part includes being wise stewards of your precious tax dollars. If you are working, you work very hard for your money. If you are retired and living on a fixed income, as many of our citizens are, I’m quite certain that you’re very cautious and careful about what you’re spending and very worried about what resources you will have in the future. We take our responsibility to the taxpayer very seriously.”
Bartlett said the council is asking county staff to do more with less and still live up to taxpayers’ expectations for government service. The income and property taxes are among the lowest in Maryland, Bartlett said, and he is proud of the minimal tax burden. The council unfortunately raised recordation taxes, he said.
“We regret having to do this, but our decision should be viewed in relationship to the bigger picture, which is to avoid the temptation to raise income taxes in a time of severe economic uncertainty,” said Bartlett.