Washington County Commissioners Approve Fiscal Year 2014 Budget

During their meeting this week, Washington County Commissioners approved the county’s fiscal year 2014 operating and capital budgets.  The $246 million operating budget keeps tax rates the same and provides full-time employees with a $1,000 stipend and part-time employees with a stipend of $700.  The $43 million capital budget also authorizes the county to borrow an additional $2 million in fiscal 2015.

As reported by the Herald Mail:

The budget calls for tax rates to remain the same as last fiscal year, with a real estate tax of 94.8 cents per $100 of assessed property value and an income tax rate of 2.8 percent.

The stipends of $1,000 for the county’s 757 full-time employees and $700 for its 153 permanent part timers are a viewed as an incentive for employees that have seen an increase in the amount of federal income tax and health care contributions taken out of their paychecks, according to County Administrator Gregory B. Murray.

After the one-time payment, it leaves the county’s General Fund reserve balance at about $38 million, still about $750,000 more than its required amount of 17 percent of the total General Fund, Murray said.

The increased spending in the capital budget is to be dedicated to road improvements.

With interest rates at all-time lows, Commissioners Jeff Cline and William B. McKinley voiced support of borrowing the extra $2 million, provided the money was used for needed road improvement projects in the county.

McKinley said some county roads have fallen into disrepair, mainly due to the county’s loss in highway user revenues from the state. Those revenues have dropped from nearly $10 million in 2007 to less than $300,000 today, he said.