Carroll Adopts Balanced Budget, Adds School Funding, Holds Line on Taxes

Seal_of_Carroll_County,_MarylandThe Carroll County Commissioners yesterday voted unanimously to approve a $418.8 million operating budget, including a last-minute infusion of $1 million for Carroll County Public Schools, bringing total county school funding to $197.3 million for FY20.

The additional school funding will help to ensure that the County is eligible for a state grant to increase teacher salaries. Under the “The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future,” legislation that enhances State aid to local school systems by $251.6 million in fiscal 2020, if counties fund a teacher salary increase of 3% or the equivalent in FY 2020 and 2021, the state will award a wealth-equalized grant (totaling $75 million each year) to further enhance teacher pay.

Local income and property tax rates remain unchanged for FY 20, at the existing $1.018 per $100 of real property, $2.515 per $100 on personal property, and 3.05% on earned income.

According to the Carroll County Times:

“Holding the line” on taxes this year was important to [Commissioner Stephen] Wantz, he said — not just to save citizens money, but because upcoming development might demand tax increases to meet them.

“There are quite a list of unknowns that will be coming up in the very near future,” he said. “Education funding and our future of fire and EMS here.”

“Could there be tax increases on the horizon as a result of [the recommendations from the Kirwan Commission]?” Wantz asked in an interview. “Absolutely, and I did not want to put anything in play this year on the backs of our citizens, knowing that we could have to do something in the next several.”

The County is working on a proposal to create the Carroll County Department of Fire and Rescue Services, which would be responsible for developing and implementing a combination service. Under the plan, the County’s 14 volunteer fire departments would remain independent, but the county employees would be embedded within the departments to help address personnel shortages.

Exactly what the partnership looks like, what it costs and how it will be funded are all part of what the new head of the Department of Fire and Rescue Services will be trying to figure out, according to Wantz — and it’s another reason the tax rates were kept flat, for now, in the FY20 budget.

“That’s the theme of this budget, holding the line in anticipation,” he said.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

Useful Links

Carroll County Times: Carroll County commissioners unanimously adopt budget, including last-minute $1 million for schools

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Hogan on Kirwan Blueprint: Okay on 2019 Bill, Yes to Funding It, and We’ll See About The Long Term

Current Budget Documents:

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