Cecil County Executive Danielle Hornberger delivered her proposed fiscal 2024 budget to the County Council this week. The budget, which includes $298.5 million in operating funds and $75.4 million in capital funding, is designed to help maintain the County’s AA+ bond rating, the highest that a county of its size can earn.
Responsible fiscal practices enable a record investment in public schools, tax cuts for county residents and businesses, tax refund checks for many local homeowners, significant pay increases for law enforcement and public safety professionals, critical school construction and capital projects, and funding to combat drug-related offenses.
The proposed budget cuts the real property tax rate from $1.0143 to $0.9924 per hundred dollars, representing an approximate two cents per hundred dollars reduction. Additionally, the proposed budget cuts the personal property tax rate for businesses from $2.5358 to $2.4810 per hundred dollars, representing an approximate five cents per hundred dollars reduction. And the proposed budget cuts the local income tax rate from 2.8 percent to 2.75 percent.
“While the US is experiencing great financial uncertainty and instability right now, Cecil County is focusing on maintaining a strong local economy, such as creating more quality jobs, including 250 at the new Northrop Grumman defense manufacturing plant and around 800 new jobs in tourism activities,” said County Executive Hornberger. The fiscal 2024 budget reflects our responsible and responsive fiscal approach that addresses the needs of residents and improves the quality of life in Cecil County, with $4.7 million in tax cuts while increasing funding for every county department.”
The County Executive’s budget allocates a record $111 million to Cecil County Public Schools, including over $88 million in operating funds. In addition, the budget includes $10.8 million for new school construction, over $2.6 million in funding for school-related improvements, and $10 million for a committed fund, which will create a dedicated public education lockbox.
“Our fiscally responsible approach to budgeting today will ensure that we don’t have to raise taxes tomorrow to fund our portion of [the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future],” said County Executive Hornberger. “The education lockbox will provide greater budgetary flexibility as we respond to these costly mandates coming out of Annapolis.”
According to Cecil County:
Budget highlights include:
- Tax cuts: Helping Cecil County residents keep more of their hard-earned money with $4.7 million in income tax cuts and a reduced real property tax rate.
- Tax refund checks: $20 million returned to “improved residential property” owners to help stimulate the economy.
- Public safety pay hikes: Across-the-board $10,000 pay increases for members of law enforcement, public safety unions, 9-1-1 specialists, and prosecutors in the State’s Attorney’s office.
- More public safety equipment and support: Funding for two new paramedic stations (Station #2 near Charlestown and Station #4 between Elkton and Fair Hill), more than $2 million for volunteer fire company equipment, including ladder trucks and a new ambulance, and funding for a specialized drug crimes prosecution team for the State’s Attorney’s office.
- Infrastructure needs: Including funding for maintenance and repair of the County’s wastewater system and expanding the county’s broadband coverage for high-speed internet.
- School construction and capital projects: More than $2.6 million in funding for school-related capital improvements at Elkton High School, Rising Sun High School, Perryville High School, Rising Sun Elementary, and Conowingo Elementary. And almost $11 million for school construction, including replacing two outdated schools to provide students and teachers with modern classrooms and updated equipment conducive to better learning.
- The FY 24 budget incorporates the State’s recommendation for 88.5 million in additional County funds towards education this year in their Cecil County public schools assessment.
- This budget includes $10 million for a “committed fund, ” creating an education lockbox.
The Cecil County Council will conduct hearings on the County Executive’s fiscal 2024 budget over the next few months. The Council must adopt the fiscal 2024 budget by June 15, 2023.