Worcester Faces Revenue Shortfall Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Worcester County cuts $15.3 million from the FY 21 operating budget amid COVID-19 pandemic.

Worcester County SealBased on the potential financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Worcester County Commissioners on May 5 will consider a revised FY 21 Operating Budget. The revised budget more accurately reflects the current economic forecast and brings the expenditure requests of county departments and agencies in line with revised revenue projections.

“The revised budget includes no property tax increase at all,” Commissioner President Joe Mitrecic said. “We have made necessary, albeit some painful, cuts based on a better understanding of potential impacts to county revenues, but the revised budget still reflects FY21 expenditures that are based on needs, not numbers.”

Fiscal 21 estimated revenues were revised from $209,931,786 to $205,694,286. To bring submitted county departments and agencies’ expenditure requests in line with revised revenue projections, the County’s financial team scrutinized $221.3 million of requests and made an aggressive round of cuts totaling $15.3 million.

The fiscal 21 budget maintains the current property tax rate of $0.845 per $100 of assessed value and honors the “maintenance of effort” funding level for the Board of Education. Budget cuts reflect anticipated reductions in income taxes and investment interest, among other categories.

According to a press release:

“We recognized early on that the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have a significant impact on county revenues, so we adjusted spending accordingly,” Chief Administrative Officer Harold Higgins said. “Because many of the capital expenditures that were cut from the FY21 budget are needs-based items held over from prior-year budgets, we will continue to monitor and evaluate revenues and may reconsider whether to reinstitute certain projects later this year based on the availability of surplus funds from the current budget.”

The public is invited to comment on any aspect of the budget during the public hearing on the Requested FY21 Worcester County Operating Budget. The public hearing will take place on Tuesday, May 5, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. from the Worcester County Government Center. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the public hearing will take place remotely via video teleconference and will be live-streamed.

Two separate options will be available to view the public hearing:

Anyone not planning to speak may view the meeting live on the county website at https://worcestercountymd.swagit.com/live.

Those planning to speak on any aspect of the requested FY21 budget must register in advance at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_R7VZcbCZRwqWickNDZKfVw. Speakers will receive an invitation via email to join the video/audio conference and will be enabled to speak during the hearing by the meeting chair.

Copies of the requested and revised budgets are available for public inspection on the Worcester County website.

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