Wicomico County Executive Rick Pollitt released his proposed $129 million fiscal 2015 budget, increasing property taxes and relying on reserve funds to encourage an economic rebound, address a back log of road projects, and protect the county’s bond rating.
As reported by the Salisbury Daily Times:
“I think what we’re trying to recover with this budget is some of the ground we lost through the recession,” Pollitt said. “It’s not as austere of a budget as we have had. It’s far below the services that people expect of us, but it maintains a healthy reserve, so our credit rating is protected.”
The County Council will now consider the proposed budget.
If the County Council approves the spending plan, the county will spend about $7 million more than it receives in tax revenue, state and federal appropriations and other sources. Dipping into the county’s $39 million reserve fund is necessary to fund $4 million in long-overdue road maintenance projects, said Pollitt’s chief deputy, Wayne Strausburg.
The proposed budget also takes steps to further reduce the tax burden on businesses.
The county also is in its second year of easing the tax burden on businesses. A personal property tax would have charged companies as much as $23.79 per $1,000 of taxable property if its rate were still linked to the property tax rate. The business tax rate is $2 less than that in Pollitt’s budget because of changes enacted by the County Council.
That’s money businesses can invest elsewhere to help them grow, Pollitt said.
MACo successfully advocated for legislation during the 2013 session to give counties greater flexibility in setting personal property tax rates.