Delegate Discusses State Budget’s Effect on Counties

As reported in the Herald Mail, State Delegate Andrew A. Serafini told the Washington County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday that Maryland’s fiscal situation might continue to pose challenges to local officials in the coming years.

Serafini, chairman of the county’s legislative delegation in Annapolis, told the five-member board that his biggest concern is that programs that have been impacted by cuts likely won’t be restored anytime soon, such as highway user revenues, additional money for pothole repairs and the increased cost of shifting teacher pensions onto local governments.

“There was a hope that a lot of those would be restored, but unfortunately, the projections don’t look good for that,” Serafini said after speaking to the commissioners for about 25 minutes. “Every time we shift things to the locals, that’s less they can do.”

Delegate Serafini specifically noted the possible need for a tax increase to meet the State’s budget commitments.

Serafini, R-Washington, said the state’s debt has grown over the past eight years along with its spending, and now a tax increase might be needed to bridge the gap between flat property values and growing shortfall projections.

Lawmakers passed a $38.9 billion operating budget for fiscal 2015 that raises spending by about 3 percent despite only a 1.5 percent growth in revenues. The spending plan also boosts the pay of government employees and reduces the amount of money paid into the state pension system.

“If the state has to raise their share of the property tax, once again that’s competing with the counties and municipalities for their main source of revenue, which means locals are going to have to continue to cut back,” Serafini said.

For more information on Delegate Serafini’s conversation, see the full story from the Herald Mail and this video of Delegate Serafini speaking with Washington County officials. For more information about the fiscal 2015 budget, see our previous coverage on Conduit Street, Final Fiscal 2015 Budget Actions Adopted – Local Government Summary, Final Budget Documents and County Budget Information Available on MACo Website.