The St. Mary’s County Commissioners have finalized work on a $220 million budget that is scheduled to be signed next week. The budget includes a $2.2 million reduction in the use of their fund balance, which leads to an overall reduction of one percent over the current year’s budget. Excluding the fund balance the budget increases by 2.4 percent.
The decision was made during a budget work session Monday at which the decision on whether to bail out the school board’s shortfall was not addressed. That is expected to happen when the school board submits its final budget later this month. The school board has a budget work session scheduled for Wednesday.
The proposed revised budget submitted to the school board by School Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano has drawn the ire of county employees. The proposal contains no salary increases and cuts in the Instructional Resource Teacher program. The commissioners’ budget contains a $4 million increase in school funding; the school budget deficit this year exceeds $7 million.
The school board has presented three options to the county commissioners ranging for no bail out to upwards of $3.7 million. Whatever monies the county gives would be used to replenish a depleted reserve in the school board’s budget for next year.
There were two attempts at Monday’s commissioner work session to pull monies from the capital budget to perhaps use to help the schools. Commissioner Lawrence Jarboe (R: 3rd) wanted the FDR construction project delayed a year and the $6 million for that in the Fiscal year 2015 budget removed. That was rebuffed on a 3-2 vote, with Commissioner Daniel Morris supporting Jarboe. Morris said, “A child’s future to me is worth more than a mile of paved road.
Later Morris suggested delaying a $100,000 county match to state funding for a Firemen’s Heritage Museum at the Leonardtown VFD. The museum would include a working carousel. Sen. Roy Dyson secured the state monies in a bond bill introduced this year. That motion was also defeated 3-2.
Commissioner Cynthia Jones (R” 1st) in arguing against both motions said it was premature to take monies out of the capital budget to cover deficits in the operating budget of one entity.
The commissioners did vote 4-1 take $7.4 million in county funding out of the Metropolitan Commission six-year capital plan for the St. George’s Park project (in fiscal years 2019 and 2020). Jones voted against the motion, saying it was premature to pull the monies until completion of the study of the county’s water and sewer hookup policies.
The commissioners did add $100,000 to the budget