While the Carroll County Board of Commissioners only started the budget deliberation process yesterday, two preliminary decisions have taken shape for fiscal year 2012 – a lower property tax rate and an increase in per pupil spending. On Thursday the Board tentatively agreed to set the property tax rate at $1.023, and to increase per pupil spending by $22 over the FY 11 amount. A Carroll County press release states:
The decision to lower the property tax rate was unanimous from this five member Board that have all advocated for tax relief for the citizens of Carroll County. Commissioner Doug Howard suggested a reduction of 2 cents in the rate in a draft budget that he offered to fellow commissioners at the start of the session. Commissioner Robin Frazier advocated for a 5 cents reduction in the rate, which would represent $10 million in budget cuts. The Board agreed on 2.5 cents, or $5 million in budget cuts.
The Board also made its preliminary decision on Board of Education funding, setting the funding at $163 million. This funding level, also recommended in the draft plan offered by Commissioner Howard is a $600,000 increase over the “maintenance of effort” level which requires counties to fund schools at no less per pupil than the previous year. Commissioner Shoemaker advocated for higher funding for the schools, noting their outstanding level of performance. Several other Commissioners made their case for funding at the “maintenance of effort” level. In a 3-2 decision, the Commissioners voted to fund at the $163 million level suggested by Howard in his draft.
Beginning Monday, the Commissioners will continue working to find the remaining $3.1 million in additional cuts necessary to balance the budget. In the interim, each Commissioner will be working with the budget recommended by Carroll County Department of Management and Budget and the draft offered by Commissioner Howard to identify areas for full funding or further cuts. The Commissioners are scheduled to release their proposed budget later this month.