Ocean City Today

County budget set, work sessions canceled

Includes $1.67M transfer from savings; property tax rate remains at 83.5 cents
By Brian Gilliland | May 18, 2017

(May 19, 2017) The Worcester County Commissioners on Tuesday declared their $199 million budget finished for next year, with neither a property tax increase nor the two remaining budget work sessions necessary for the June 6 adoption.

At the end of last week’s work session, expenditures exceeded revenues by about $108,000 as the commissioners largely accepted recommended cuts proposed by staff and only made a few tweaks here and there in the overall document.

Budget Manager Kathy Whited reported cuts in four areas to balance the budget. The first is an $8,900 reduction in the salary allowance, next is an estimated $17,000 reduction in the final rates of hospitalization insurance, followed by a close to $54,000 reduction in the retirement account and an almost $28,000 reduction in social security taxes.

With these changes approved, the budget is in balance at $198.9 million. The current tax rate of 83.5 cents per $100 of assessed value is expected to remain in effect next year.

The fiscal 2018 budget d0es include a transfer of nearly $1.67 million from the Budget Stabilization Fund, a move a few commissioners strongly objected to at the start of budget negotiations. This transfer is only about $59,000 less than the initial transfer amount provided by staff at the start of the process at $1.7 million.

Budget stabilization money is spent last in Worcester County, so the final amount may change between now and the end-of-year audit, with results due in December.

Next year, an election year, the county expects only about $2 million in additional revenues, according to a report issued at the May 4 meeting. County Administrator Harold Higgins described it as a conservative estimate.

Expenditures in the report grew along the same lines, with only a $32,000 expected shortfall between revenues and expenditures in fiscal 2019. However, the initial requests by the departments and other beneficiaries of the county plan are likely to exceed this amount substantially.

This year, initial expenditure requests exceeded revenues by $6.7 million, last year the number was closer to $6.5 million and the year before that was about $22 million.

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