Calvert County Commissioners Raise Concerns Over State Cost Shifting

On September 15, 2015, the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners sent a letter to Maryland Senate President Thomas “Mike” Miller Jr. and other Calvert County state legislators outlining concerns over the State shifting budgetary burdens onto local governments through legislative and regulatory changes. From the letter:

We are elected to serve the citizens of Calvert County.  One of our chief duties is to ensure that government is run in an efficient, cost-effective manner, making the best use of our local tax dollars for local priorities.  However, we have found ourselves time and again embroiled in local requests for additional funds and/or staff to address shortfalls in areas that are part of the traditional scope of State funding.  In effect, the State is creating an ad-hoc category in our local budget, and it is one we have no ability to constrain or control.

The letter cited multiple examples of cost shifting or new legislative burdens, including: (1) State funding cuts and pension cost shifting for local health departments; (2) local implementation of the State’s Watershed Implementation Plan for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay; (3) diversion of local highway user revenues; (4) local implementation of new stormwater management requirements; (5) new land use mandates such as comprehensive plan elements, growth tiers, and septic system restrictions; and (6) the shifting of teacher pension costs from the State to county governments. The letter concluded by requesting that the State work with local jurisdictions to address these cost and burden-shifting concerns:

We believe it is time for the State to acknowledge the budgetary impact of all of its decisions on [our] local economy and work with us to determine what steps can be taken to preserve the ability of local jurisdictions to spend local tax dollars on local priorities and projects.