This past week the Frederick Board of County Commissioners received an unexpected surprise-an additional $3.6 million to spend in FY 2012. According to the county’s budget office Michael Gastley, the newly found money is derived from $2.1 million in savings accrued by adjustments to the county’s health insurance plan; $1.1 million from unused snow removal funding ; $233,636 in state highway-user fees; $162,000 in savings by eliminating the Up-County Family Partnership program, and $14,739 in savings by cuts to the Frederick County Drug Court. However, as reported by The Gazette, the Commissioners have differing views on how the additional revenue should be spent in the upcoming fiscal year- ranging from restoring funding to programs that were cut to setting it aside teacher pensions and a possible special election for a charter-writing board.
Commissioner C. Paul Smith (R) suggested that the board restore $143,000 in funding cuts to the Religious Coalition for Emergency Needs in Frederick County and the Frederick County Community Action Agency. Both nonprofit agencies help low-income residents and homeless people.
Smith and Commissioner David P. Gray (R) voted in favor of restoring the money, but commissioners Kirby Delauter (R), Billy Shreve (R) and Blaine R. Young (R) voted against the move.
Young, who is president of the board, reminded commissioners that the county expects to see $20.8 million in deficits in fiscal 2013, so they must use discretion in deciding where to spend the money, even though he believes the nonprofit agencies are worthwhile.
“One of the reasons I ran is to get our financial house in order,” Young said. “There are tough decisions to be made. We’re not going to make everybody happy. Believe me, it’s not that no one cares. All of us care very much.”
Fiscal 2012 starts July 1, and commissioners expect to adopt the $448 million budget for it in June.
Meanwhile, Gray delivered a prepared speech asking that commissioners restore the $2.3 million they cut from Head Start. “It is by preserving the quality of life in Frederick County that we will attract new jobs and taxpaying citizens into the county,” Gray said. “Once we begin to erode this quality by eliminating programs that make us unique, we have begun the process of tearing down what many have worked years to create for us and future generations.”
Young argued that Head Start is a federal program that should not receive county taxpayer dollars.
Commissioners did discuss giving $42,000 of the $162,000 cut in funding to the Up-County Family Partnership, a center that provides parents and their children support, assistance, educational programs and career development opportunities.
Young said commissioners also need to set aside $250,000 for the possibility of a special election for a new charter-writing board; $365,693 for teacher pensions; and $1,000 to pay for the increase membership of the Frederick County Board of Elections from three to five.
Gastley said he would come back to the board in two to three weeks to discuss allocating the $3.6 million.