According to a story published in The Independent, the Charles County Commissioners will need to fill a $7 million gap before they can pass a balanced budget for FY 2012. The gap is primarily due to a decline in revenue from property tax assessments and deficits created as a result of state cuts in aid to local governments and decisions to shift responsibilities for certain state costs onto local governments. The potential for the state to shift more costs to local governments as a result of a special session this coming fall, also creates a challenge for the county in budget deliberations.
“…the county has lost 97 percent of the revenue from the highway user portion of the gasoline tax for transportation spending previously received from the State Highway Administration during the current fiscal year, which ends in July.
“We don’t receive very much funding at all from the state anymore,” Hudson said.
The county also will be picking up all expenses related to running the Crain Memorial Welcome Center on U.S. 301 near the Gov. Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge in Newburg, as the state has declined to fund it.
During the current fiscal year, the county contributed 50 percent of the needed money, about $50,000; to keep it open in fiscal 2012, staff suggested spending $75,000 of county money, which will require some cuts in service there, Budget Chief David Eicholtz said.
“We’re just doing it a little less than we thought this year,” he said.
The situation is likely to get worse. It is “inevitable” that the state will ultimately pass on the costs of public school teacher pension plans as well, Hudson said, something county governments have dreaded for years.