Calvert Commissioners Consider Tough Options to Balance Budget

Faced with a deficit in FY 2016 and beyond, Calvert County Commissioners consider four options to balance the budget – the use of fund balance, tax increases, furloughs, and reducing staff.

As reported by Southern Maryland Newspapers Online,

With the use of fund balance for one-time expenses, the county faces a $3,016,898 deficit in fiscal 2016. Without the use of fund balance, the deficit is $6,488,798, said Joan Thorp, deputy director of the Department of Finance and Budget.

To deal with the challenges, Thorp said, 10 days of furloughs, or unpaid time off, for all staff would mean a deficit reduction of $1.69 million in the coming fiscal year. It would be the first county furlough in history.

Another option would be to reduce the workforce, but there are regulations dictating which employees can be laid off.

The last option Thorp presented was “revenue enhancements,” or tax increases. Hejl said the property tax in Calvert County has not been increased since 1987. During this time, the median household income in Calvert County was about $30,000.

By increasing the income tax rate from the current 2.8 percent to 3 percent, it would result in revenues to the county of $2.3 million the first year and increase to $4.5 million the second year (the first full year). By increasing the real property tax rate from the current 0.892 per $100 of assessed value to 0.992 per $100 of assessed value, it would result in more than $11 million in increased revenues to the county. On a home valued at $275,000, this increase would mean an increase of $269 per year in real property tax, according to Tuesday’s presentation.

County Commissioners plan to hold a budget hearing on May 19 and adopt the FY 2016 budget on June 2.

The staff recommended budget for Calvert County can be found on the county website.