Frederick County Council Approves 2018 Budget

The Frederick County Council gave final approval Tuesday to the 2018 budget plan.

The $581.9 million proposal, largely unchanged from the spending plan proposed by County Executive Jan Gardner (D), includes an increase in education and public safety spending, additional county employees and a 2 percent boost in county employee salaries.

According to The Frederick News-Post,

The budget also adds 57 new positions to county government, more than half of them in public safety positions.

It represents a nearly 3.9 percent, or almost $21.7 million, increase over the current year’s spending plan.

The budget was approved 4-2, with Chmelik and Shreve voting against the overall package.

The increased revenue in the budget comes primarily through property taxes.

The council voted to keep the property tax rate steady at $1.06 per $100 of assessed value, as proposed by Gardner.

Because of new construction and increased property values, the county is expected to bring in about $11.2 million more in property tax revenue next year.

On Tuesday, the council continued a debate on whether to keep the current rate or reduce it to the “constant yield tax rate” of $1.0359, which would bring in the same amount of property tax revenue as the current year.

Shreve and Chmelik voted against the higher rate, while Donald, Fitwater, Keegan-Ayer and Otis supported it, noting that the revenue would go to budget priorities they support.

The council passed the budget through a resolution that will allow some minor changes to the budget to take place next year without separate council approval. The changes include allowing the county’s budget office to move money between accounts to take advantage of mass purchasing discounts and to accept unexpected increases in grant funds, though unexpected grant revenue greater than $20,000 would still come back to the council.

Any major changes or items that are outside the course of normal county business would still come to the council.

The language is intended to reduce the number of budget transfers that appear on County Council agendas; 141 budget transfers were brought to the council in Frederick County last year, compared with 19 transfers in Cecil County, which is often used as a benchmark for comparison.

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