The Frederick County Council gave final approval last week to a $535.8 million operating budget for fiscal 2016. The budget, which is 1.9 percent greater than the current fiscal year, holds tax rates at the existing level and funds education over Maintenance of Effort. As reported by the Frederick News-Post,
Nearly half of the budget, or $250 million, will go to the county Board of Education. The budget provides $4 million more to county schools than the minimum required by the state, which requires the county to spend at least the same amount of money per student each year. This is the first time in six years schools have been funded over the bare minimum, Gardner said.
Gardner also pointed out that the budget adds 10 firefighters and four sheriff’s deputies to meet growing call volume, and makes sure the county meets the needs of its growing senior population by supporting Meals on Wheels and senior services.
The real property tax rate became an item of contention amongst council members.
The council members who voted against the budget have been saying since the executive’s proposal that they want to see the tax rate drop to the constant yield rate, the rate that would generate the same amount of revenue for the county as the year before. Because of rising property values next budget year, the unchanged rate is expected to generate higher revenue compared with this budget year. The council would have had to propose $4.2 million in cuts to lower the rate to constant yield.
The fiscal 2016 budget was approved by a vote of 4 – 3.