The Washington County Commissioners are considering a $281 million proposed operating budget to strengthen public schools, keep residents safe, and invest in future jobs and a growing tax base.
According to Chief Financial Officer Michelle Gordon, fiscal 2024 General Fund expenditures increase by $18 million or 6.94 percent over the current year’s budget, driven primarily by costs for education, public safety, internal transfers, and other governmental programs drive this additional spending.
The most significant portion of operating spending, $122.8 million, is slated for education, including contributions to Washington County Public Schools, Hagerstown Community College, and the County library system.
Proposed allocations for public safety total more than $75 million, with $44.5 million devoted to the sheriff’s office and more than $28 million for emergency services. In addition, $1.8 million is slated for emergency management and animal control services.
Other highlights include:
- Board of Education — hold harmless and fund $1 million above maintenance of effort
- An adjusted salary scale for grades 12 and under
- Increased incentives to fire and rescue volunteer companies
- $1,332,000 in additional funding for capital projects
- $520,000 to fund a one-time 1 percent COLA for retirees
- A step of 2.5 percent and COLA of 1 percent for employees
According to Gordon, fiscal 2024 General Fund revenues reflect an increase of 6.94 percent, or $18 million, over the 2023 budget.
Property tax revenue is expected to increase by 6.31 percent, or $8.5 million, in fiscal 2024. This increase is directly related to an increase in the real estate assessable base based on information provided by the State of Maryland Department of Assessments & Taxation. The property tax rate is $0.928 per $100 of assessed value.
Local income tax revenue reflects an increase of $8.6 million over the current year’s budget. The revenue projection is based on current and prior-year revenues. It assumes a 3 percent income growth for current withholdings, final reconcilements of prior year withholdings will decrease to normal levels, and other distributions based on a three-year average. In addition, the budget includes an assumed disparity grant of $2.7 million.
The proposed fiscal 2024 capital budget is $56 million, about $10 million less than the current year’s budget. The funding mix for the fiscal 2024 capital budget is 75 percent cash, 21 percent tax-supported debt, and 4 percent self-supported debt.
The Washington County Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the proposed budget on May 16.
Visit the Washington County website for more information.