Charles County Budget Requests Exceed Revenues By $40.4 Million

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With county department and school system budget requests totaling $40.4 million more than expected revenues, Charles County Commissioners will need to make some tough decisions when finalizing the fiscal 2016 operating budget. The baseline budget prepared by county staff already factored in a tax increase to make ends meet, but a greater increase would be necessary to fully fund all requests.

As reported by Southern Maryland Newspapers Online,

Dave Eicholtz, the director of the county’s fiscal and administrative services, gave a brief budget review, noting the baseline budget calls for $4.4 million in tax increases which could come from property taxes or income taxes. Eicholtz said budget staff went into the process wanting to “maintain government services and relieve pressure on the property and income taxes, since those have both increased in recent years,” plus maintain the county’s high bond ratings.

He said the baseline budget gives small increases to the school system and sheriff’s office, with the school system getting $16 million less than the $20 million — 13 percent more than fiscal 2015 — in additional spending it requested, and the sheriff’s office getting $506,000 more, a 1 percent increase.

Fully funding department and school requests would require an 18 percent increase in the property tax rate, Eicholtz said.

In a public hearing last week, Commissioners heard from teachers, parents, the business community, and environmental groups providing their views on the requests and which items should be funded in the upcoming fiscal year’s budget. Commissioners will continue their work over the next two weeks, with final passage of the budget anticipated on June 9.