Washington County Approves Budget, Holds Line on Taxes for 17th Straight Year

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On May 10th, the Washington County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved an operating & capital budget totaling $300.5 million for FY 2017. This budget is an overall decrease of $3.6 million from the current fiscal year that ends June 30. Even with the decreased budget, this is the 17th straight year that Washington County has not increased its taxes.

According to the Herald-Mail Media article,

“We’ve been able to downsize government, flat-line our budgets to current departments, and we’ve done the necessary things to keep us” in good financial standing and avoid the need for tax hikes, said Commissioner Terry L. Baker, president of the five-member board.

In a separate motion Tuesday, the commissioners voted unanimously to approve water and sewer rate adjustments that amount to a roughly 3.5 percent increase on users of both systems.

The fees are based on a rate model that aims to keep increases reasonable while funding expensive system upgrades and paying down debt, county officials have said.

Commissioner John F. Barr was absent from the meeting for a second consecutive week to attend to duties as president of the Maryland Association of Counties.

Making up the majority of the total budget, the $211.7 million general fund reflects a 2.5 percent increase over the current fiscal year ending June 30, illustrating the region’s continued slow economic recovery being seen in the form of property and local tax revenues.

The budget increased slightly over the version taken to public hearing a week ago, thanks to a one-time state grant that is going toward the $627,060 cost to establish a day-reporting center in the county, which would be the first of its kind in the state when it begins operating as early as this fall.

As in past years, education and public safety account for the majority of general-fund expenditures, combining for about $150 million for fiscal 2017.

The budget essentially flat funds the Washington County Board of Education at $90 million, although the total figure includes an additional $4.8 million to cover the cost of shifting state pension obligations to localities.

To read the full article on the passed budget, please visit Herald-Mail Media online.