During a work session on Tuesday, Queen Anne County Commissioners released their proposed FY2012 budget, which included a 12-cent increase in the county’s property tax rate and a .35 percent increase in its income tax rate in an effort to offset a projected $11.3 million deficit. The proposed $109 million operating budget also includes a multi-million dollar cut to the Board of Education as previously reported by MACo.
The Star Democrat reports:
“Some of the things we are doing we have to do to stay healthy in the bond market,” said Commission President Steven Arentz. “Those are some of the considerations. I really don’t think we should be naive to think that people don’t understand that increasing the tax rate per income tax is not a tax increase. When I add that to the 12 cents, it starts to scare the living heck out of me. For advertising purposes I think we need to get there. … I think we’re going to do the right thing when we’re all done; I really do.”
A budget letter is set to be mailed to each county resident on Friday.
The letter, which the commissioners signed Tuesday, says the county was “faced with a budget deficit of $12 million for the current fiscal year 2011 and an anticipated 2012 deficit of $19.2 million which equals 17 percent of the $115 million of projected expenditures and transfers.”
On Tuesday, Arentz asked county employees to think about alternative ways to finance its services.
“I don’t want to decimate the county any more,” said Arentz. “We want a good efficient county. We want the best we can have with what we’ve got. I think we need to all understand it isn’t business as usual, and as far as the dollars and cents, if cutting is all we’ve got, we’ve got to look at an alternative, and find ways around that that makes it creative.”
“I believe this commission has a duty to the citizens to map out a path forward,” said Arentz. “Based on what we’re seeing today … there’s nothing here showing us that we’re making the right choices to move forward as far as making the county sustainable without just constantly increasing taxes. That’s just not the goal. I think we need to explore how we’re going to move forward and what types of growth this county can have, and challenge the different departments to present those options to us.”