All Three Rating Agencies Give Prince George’s County a AAA Bond Rating

For the first time, Prince George's County has received a AAA bond rating from the three major Wall Street rating agencies.  Standard and Poor's gave the county its first AAA rating in 2008, and Moody's Investor Services followed with a AAA? in 2010.  Fitch Ratings was the last agency to do the same.  According to Analysts with Fitch Ratings announced May 27 that they upgraded their rating on the county from AA+ to AAA,…

Charles County Commissioners Propose Flat Tax Rate, Slight Increase in Expenditures

During a hearing on Charles County's $307 million operating budget, commissioners proposed keeping property tax rates flat, which due to declining assessments, means that residents could see declines in their property tax bills.  As reported by Southern Maryland Newspapers Online: Tax bills for individual property owners depend on the assessed value of their properties, but falling assessments in most of the county mean taxes will fall by an average of 3.8 percent, according to county…

Prince George’s County Council Approves FY 2012 Budget

The Prince George's County Council approved a $2.7 billion budget that slightly reduces funding to education but maintains funding for key school programs.  As reported by the Washington Post: With the new budget, council members also allocated funds for an economic development fund and for road repairs, new police and fire recruits, and a one-time $750 bonus for county employees.The public school system receives the single largest share of the county budget: Spending on the…

Montgomery County Council Approves Budget, Increases Property Tax

The Montgomery County Council unanimously approved a $4.37 billion budget, which increases spending by 2.2 percent.  As reported by the Washington Post: Funding for schools is down slightly, employees face cuts to health and retirement benefits and spending on recreation, fire and rescue and some social service and other programs is being reduced. The council upped the property tax rate by 4.2 cents, but also included a credit that moderates the increase for homeowners, officials…

Howard County Approves FY 2012 Budget

The Howard County Council approved a $1.56 billion operating budget and $179.3 million for capital improvements.  The Baltimore Sun reports: The overall operating budget will increase 8.8 percent, but the locally funded portion of the budget is rising 5.6 percent. County officials said that increase primarily reflects built-in cost increases for things like fuel, health insurance and interest on debt.Ulman used small amounts of new funding to pay for a new stormwater czar to help…

Most Counties See Actual Decline in Property Tax Base

As property assessments are in decline in every part of the state, it comes as no surprise that the effective property tax base is now lower than it was last year for most Maryland counties. The simplest measure of this -- which includes the fairly complicated effects of the various phase-in and credits that benefit Maryland taxpayers -- is each county's Constant Yield Tax Rate. The constant yield tax rate is the tax rate a…

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Prince George’s County Rejects Raises, May Provide One-Time Bonus

As reported by the Washington Post,  Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker and the County Council may have struck a deal to provide one-time bonuses to approximately 6,000 employees instead of a 2% raise that would benefit 1,500 employees. In a 5 to 3 vote Tuesday, the council voted down a 2 percent raise for about 1,500 county employees who are members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. But in private…

Montgomery County to Cut Employee Benefits and School System

As reported by the Washington Post, the Montgomery County Council, led by Council President Valerie Ervin, has agreed on a package of cuts to employee benefits and the public school system.  The  Council is scheduled to vote on these key parts of the budget Thursday. Under the plan, the council would cut $25 million from the $1.4 billion it contributed to the public school system this year. It would also take more control over the…

Wicomico County Budget Discussions Center on Tax Increases

As budget deliberations begin for the FY 2012 operating budget, the central question confronting the Wicomico County Council is whether to support a property tax increase of 6.5 percent to fill an anticipated $4.5 million budget deficit.  County Executive Rick Pollitt, who introduced the tax increase in his proposed budget, notes that without it would require a second straight year of layoffs,  decreased funding levels to Wor-Wic Community College, and call for an additional $2…

Howard County Releases Proposed FY12 Operating Budget

Howard County Executive and MACo President Ken Ulman recently unveiled his proposed $1.56 billion FY12 Operating Budget. As outlined in a Howard County news release, the proposed spending plan includes, no increases to the current property tax rate, funding of the county’s school systems $512.6 million budget request, and driving additional funds towards environmental protection initiatives.

“With the economy beginning to show signs of recovery, we must maintain our commitment to fiscal responsibility and, at the same time, position Howard County to take full advantage of the opportunities this recovery presents,” said Executive Ulman. “Our optimism is evident in this budget, but so is our caution.”

The General Fund Budget is $870.8 million. “Even though state cuts to local jurisdictions are difficult to overcome, the financial decisions we have made allow us to maintain our Triple-A credit rating from all three bond rating agencies,” said County Finance Director Sharon Greisz. Howard County is one of fewer than 30 counties nationwide to have a Triple-A rating from all three agencies.

Continuing the commitment the County has made to restoring the health of our environment, this budget increases funding for the County’s Office of Environmental Sustainability (OES) by nearly 300 percent. As was the case in the Capital Budget, the primary focus of this funding increase is to strengthen the County’s efforts at controlling stormwater runoff, one of the root causes of the degradation of our streams, waterways and the Chesapeake Bay.