The Queen Anne’s County Board of Commissioners recently approved the county’s FY12 spending plan. Amongst the financial measures taken to balance the budget was the passage of an 8-cent property tax rate increase. A 12-cent property tax hike was included in the original budget proposal. Additionally, the commissioners moved the county to a 3.2% income tax rate, the maximum rate allowed under state law. A Queen Anne’s County press release states:
When the commissioners took office in December 2010 they were faced with a projected deficit of $19.2 million for fiscal year 2012 – which began July 1, 2011.
Following recommendations of the Task Force on Government Sustainability the commissioners reorganized county departments eliminating 61 county jobs (through further attrition and a hiring freeze this number has increased to 78 positions) resulting in a $5 million plus savings, and reducing services. These reductions included reduced days and hours at transfer stations (dumps), reduced services to seniors, reduced road and park maintenance and improvements, elimination of some recreation programs, elimination of the Emergency Housing Assistance Program, and the elimination of funding to the After School Program.
Additional savings were realized through the continuation, the second year, of county employees 5 to 10 day furloughs, no employee cost of living increases, higher contributions by employees to health care benefits, $100,000 reduction in Sheriff’s Department request for new vehicles, reduction in funding to Outside Agencies ( Hospice, the Arts Council, Chester Wye, and others) by 50 percent with no promise of any funding in the future and a reduction in the funding for the Board of Education, which constitutes 45 percent of the County’s budget, by $4.5 million.