On Election Day, Ballot Measures On Budgets Abound

Today voters will be presented with a number of ballot questions concerning local budgeting processes. A sampling of some of those questions is below. To see all ballot questions proposed throughout Maryland today, visit the State Board of Elections.

Anne Arundel County

Question B would amend the County Charter to allow legislation that approves financial transfers within the county budget to pass into law immediately. Currently, such transfers are treated like any other legislation, which means they must wait 45 days before passing into law.

Question D would amend the County Charter to require the County Executive to hold two public meetings on the proposed County budget no later than 30 days before the start of the annual legislative session of the County Council, before submission to the County Council.

Read this Capital Gazette article for more information.

Baltimore City

Question C calls for three cents of every $100 in assessed value in the city to be placed in a new, non-lapsing Children and Youth Fund, “to be used exclusively to provide supplemental funding to broadly defined services for children and youth. The Fund may not be used to substitute or replace funding for children and youth programs and services that are provided for in the FY17 ordinance of estimates.”

Question I increases the schedule for audits of principal city agencies to every two years instead of every four, and it adds three more agencies to the list for audits. The amendment also ensures greater independence in the way audits are conducted. Presently, many audits are conducted by the Department of Finance, which reports to the mayor; this amendment puts them all under the auspices of the comptroller’s office. Read previous Conduit Street coverage for more information.

Question J would amend the City Charter to set up a trust fund for low and extremely low households in order to preserve affordable housing in the City. Read previous Conduit Street Coverage for more information.

Frederick County

Question B would amend the County Charter to extend the time for the County Council to adopt the County budget until May 31 and would require that the County Council provide at least two days advance notice on the County website before holding a public hearing on a budget amendment that constitutes a change of substance.

Howard County 

Question B requires that the County’s annual budget include a contingency reserve in the current expense budget and a contingency reserve capital project in the capital budget. Further, it provides the County Council the option to place funds it cuts from the County Executive’s budget into either the county’s pension system or into either contingency reserve fund.

Wicomico County

Question J would amend the County Charter to provide that in the event the County Council and county executive do not agree upon the expenditure of a surplus resulting from the council’s decreasing or deleting budget items, the surplus will be placed in the Undesignated Fund Balance.

“Budgeting for Bust or Boom” At MACo’s Winter Conference

While most voters may only think about the county budgeting process on days like today when visiting the polls, county budget and finance officers are constantly entertaining thoughts and concerns about how to balance the books. At year’s MACo Winter Conference, “An Ounce of Prevention,” the County Budget and Finance Officers’ Affiliate will host the session, “Budgeting for Bust or Boom.”

As our counties bounce back from the Great Recession with lessons learned and belts tightened, it becomes especially important to plan and save to protect against whatever may come next. With furloughs and freezes thankfully behind us for the time being, the present reality of stagnant property tax revenues and sluggish income growth leaves our local governments in a different position than we were in ten years ago – and prudence warrants budgeting accordingly.


  • Ted Zaleski, Director of Management and Budget, Carroll County
  • Mira Green, Budget Analyst, City of Baltimore

Date & Time: Thursday, December 8, 2016; 2 pm – 3 pm

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference: