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PRINCE FREDERICK, Md. –– The Calvert County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), on June 5, adopted a $224.9 million operating budget and a $24 million Capital Improvement Plan for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 covering July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013. The balanced budget includes no tax increases or use of the county’s fund balance for FY 2013.
In a stormy economic climate with declining property tax receipts, reduced state funding and a shift of state teacher pension expenses to the counties, the Calvert County budget maintains a focus on county priorities. The measure preserves the level of county services and funds critical county infrastructure to serve the citizens. Through the implementation of efficiencies and increased productivity, county departments met these goals while decreasing operating expenses approximately 1 percent.
Budgetary challenges forced hard decisions on the spending measure. No raises were included for county employees, though layoffs or furloughs were avoided. There are no new county positions in the budget and no funding for new initiatives. The BOCC also worked with Calvert County Public Schools to reduce layoffs and balance the education budget in light of declining school enrollment and state funding reductions. Public education funding in the county budget meets state-mandated maintenance of effort requirements (MOE), though this is the first time in recent history that the county has not exceeded MOE. Since July 2004, county education expenditures exceeded MOE by $33.7 million.
The student enrollment decline resulted in an operating funding decrease of approximately $1.6 million, or 1.5 percent, in the FY 2013 budget. The county will also fund $2.8 million in teacher pension expenses in FY 2013 as a result of the partial shift of pension costs to the counties enacted by state legislators in the last state General Assembly session. This amount is projected to nearly double over the next four years.
Unchanged are the real property tax rate of 89.2 cents per $100 of assessed value and a public utility and personal property tax rate of $2.23 per $100 of assessed value. In the municipalities of Chesapeake Beach and North Beach, the real property tax rate is 55.6 cents per $100 of assessed value and the public utility and personal property tax rate is $1.39 per $100 of assessed value. The budget includes modest fee increases for solid waste and water and sewer service.
As part of the budget process, the county reviews and provides funding for numerous services and amenities to the citizens to such as parks and recreation facilities (parks, pools, ball fields, golf course, etc.), public safety, education, transportation, roads and road maintenance, public facilities and more. Some amenities are not used by all, but the wide array of services can be enjoyed by the majority of our residents. It is critically important that all services be given the same consideration and funding issues are addressed when there is a demonstrated need. It is also vital that we maintain this infrastructure for the benefit of all of our citizens. Therefore, the FY 2013 Capital Improvement Plan includes the following projects:
-- Completion of Phase 1 of the Calvert High School renovation and addition
-- Handicap accessible playground and parking at Hallowing Point Park
-- The Route 231 intersection phase of the Prince Frederick Loop Road project
-- An upgrade and expansion of the 911, 800 MHz emergency digital communication system
-- Infrastructure improvements for solid waste and public water and sewerage
-- Golf course irrigation repairs
The full FY 2013 budget document is available online at http://www.co.cal.md.us/government/departments/finance/.
Source: Calvert County Government