The Charles County Board of Commissioners will be presented with a $5.8 million dollar budget deficit on Tuesday as new details following the Maryland General Assembly’s special session made the budget picture more clear for the county’s fiscal and administrative services.
During the special session, the Maryland General Assembly passed an increase in the income tax, which would bring in $1,665,000 in additional revenue to Charles County, an increase in Recordation taxes which would bring in $1 million and a passage of a plan to shift teacher pension costs to the state, which would add $3,936,500 to the budget.
“The Constant Yield brings in $9 million,” Commissioner President Candice Quinn Kelly said on Thursday.
The Constant Yield, which is likely to result in a Property Tax increase, requires property taxes bring in the same revenue each year. With an expected loss in property tax revenue, the constant yield tax would likely increase, though a public hearing has already been held on the increases with residents expressing disapproval of the notion.
“From my point of view, I consider education a priority,” Kelly said. “We have already invested so much in improving our education that a step backwards would be irresponsible. Children are our future. I also believe public safety is essential to a civilized society.”
“Costs are exceeding our revenues,” Budget Chief David Eicholtz said on Friday.
Eicholtz could not comment on taxation, saying those decisions have yet to be made, reiterating that this is a preliminary budget.
There are cuts proposed in the budget, primarily in the Charles County Public Schools budget. The school system has requested slightly over $158 million but the proposed budget only allocates $149.5 million. The Charles County Sheriff’s Office’s request for $68.65 million is unchanged in the proposal.
The Charles County Board of Commissioners will be presented with the preliminary proposal on Tuesday, May 22nd, during a work session and will be able to make their recommendations, which may include an increase in the State’s Attorney’s budget after State’s Attorney Tony Covington addressed the commissioners asking for more money for more staffing in the FY-2013 budget.
“Every other county has more prosecutors than defenders,” Covington said, asking for $500,000. “Charles County has more public defenders than prosecutors. And public defenders don’t handle all crimes. They don’t handle all those cases either. Each individual case, a prosecutor has to do more work than a defender. It’s easier to build a house than to tear one down. Prosecutors build the house, defense attorneys tear them down. Prosecutors are here to defend the public, defense attorneys do the opposite.”
The budget will likely be modified before any votes are cast to send it to a public hearing. After a public hearing, the commissioners will have the final say in the approval of the budget and any changes in taxes.
The entire budget proposal can be seen on the Charles County Government BoardDocs page at: http://www.boarddocs.com/md/chrlsco/Board.nsf/files/8UDM8H59F806/$file/1_FY13%20ProposedGeneralFund.pdf