Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner released her proposed fiscal 2018 budget, prioritizing community values: education, public safety and senior citizens. From the announcement:
With the input of thousands of county citizens, I have shaped a fiscally responsible budget that reflects our community values and priorities. The budget provides record funding to ensure top-notch education for our children, an investment in police, fire, corrections and 9-1-1 communications to keep our community safe, and services that create an enviable quality of life in which to live and grow our businesses.
The budget provides record funding for education at $272.3 million, including $3.8 million for maintenance of effort (MOE), along with an additional $10 million on top of that. The capital budget funds construction of Butterfly Ridge and Sugarloaf elementary schools, design for Rock Creek School and a feasibility study for Waverley Elementary school. Frederick Community College receives $700,000 for a 2 percent salary improvement for all employees. The Frederick County Public Libraries receive funds for increased staff to support the larger Walkersville Branch Library, scheduled to open in January 2018.
The budget reflects commitment to staffing public safety through the county’s Sheriff’s Office, Division of Fire and Rescue Services, 9-1-1 Communications and Emergency Management. The Sheriff’s Office receives funds for eight new Correctional Officer positions and four new sworn deputy positions, the latter to pick up responsibilities combating the growing opioid crisis. Fire and Rescue Service receives funds to add 12 new positions, and 9-1-1 Communications receives eight new positions.
Reflecting a high priority identified in the county’s citizen budget survey, the budget prioritizes services for senior citizens – a population expected to grow twice as fast in Frederick than the rest of the state. Funds are targeted for advancing the county’s Seniors First program, including support for Meals on Wheels, additional in-home health aides, and help to connect seniors to needed resources and services, such as navigating Medicare and Medicaid complexities.
The budget also provides an additional $345,000 from additional state transportation aid for basic materials to support the county’s infrastructure, which includes 1,300 miles of county roads and over 400 bridges and pipe structures. The capital budget funds preventive maintenance and pavement reconstruction of asphalt and tar and chip roads through the county’s Pavement Management Program, as well replacement of the bridge on Gas House Pike and several federally funded bridge deck replacements.
The General Fund budget grows by 3.9 percent, maintains the county’s AAA bond rating, and includes no tax rate increases. All employees receive a 2 percent cost of living adjustment, and 350 positions receive reclassifications.