Baltimore County Council Approves $1.6B Budget

On Thursday the Baltimore County Council approved County Executive Kevin Kamenetz’s $1.6 billion operating budget  for the upcoming fiscal year.  The Baltimore Sun reports:

The council voted last week to cut the budget by about $258,200 — a fraction of the $1.5 million recommended by the county auditor.

Kamenetz trimmed dozens of jobs and pulled $61 million from reserves — nearly six times the amount used last year — to balance the budget, leaving property and income tax rates unchanged. The budget increased less than 1 percent over last year’s plan. The county has approximately $150 million in reserves, about 10 percent of the total budget.

The Fire Department would have faced a $700,000 hit under the auditor’s recommendations — the largest recommended cut. Several agencies and departments and the school system did not face any cuts.

Declines in state aid have hit the county hard in recent years. This year, the state shifted $6.6 million in administrative costs to localities. Local officials are bracing for the prospect next year of additional cost shifts, particularly teacher pension expenses.

“This was not an easy budget to prepare and council members embraced the principles of innovation, consolidation and efficiency,” Kamenetz said after the vote. “With a looming state deficit of more than $1 billion, there are stormy seas ahead for every local government.”

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