Ocean City Today
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County fiscal 2019 budget public hearing next Tuesday

By Brian Gilliland | Apr 26, 2018

(April 27, 2018) Worcester County residents will get the chance to have their say on the fiscal 2019 budget Tuesday, May 1, at Snow Hill High School starting at 7 p.m.

Included in the document at this stage is a shortfall of almost $9 million and a proposed 5.9 cent property tax hike to cover the gap. Worcester County’s current property tax rate is 83.5 cents per $100 of assessed value, and the proposed increase would bring it to 89.4 cents.

General fund revenues are estimated to be $202.6 million this year, while the requested expenditures total about $211.6 million, leaving a shortfall of almost $8.95 million, according to County Administrator Harold Higgins.

The state budget has also not been finalized, which could also affect the final county budget.

This budget contains every request made by every county department, including the Board of Education, and no cuts have been offered yet.

The Board of Education proposed an estimated $88.4 million spending plan, which is an increase of about $3.52 million from last year. Worcester also pays for school construction debt, about $10.4 million, bringing the total requested cost of the schools to the county to about $98.8 million, or 49 percent of the county’s total estimated revenue.

Following this meeting, a committee of county staff will meet to review the entire document and make changes. After that, it’s the commissioner’s turn to change, add or eliminate funding from the document.

Those changes will take place during a series of work sessions scheduled in May, before the final document is adopted on June 5.

Higgins previously said the staff’s goal for this fiscal budget is to provide salary increases to employees. On a separate occasion, Higgins said he was aware of the commissioners’ goal of not raising property taxes for this budget. All seven commissioners are up for election this year, but only four have opponents.

Commissioner Bud Church will first face Gary Millhoff in the June 26 primary before the winner moves on to face Zackery Tyndall in the November 6 general election. Commissioner Merrill Lockfaw faces Josh Nordstrom in November, Commissioner Chip Bertino faces Judy Butler and Commissioner Ted Elder faces Virgil Shockley.

Assessments in Worcester County increased by about one percent this year, so the constant yield rate, the amount the county needs to charge in order to bring in the same amount of tax revenue as the previous year, was set by the state at 82.7 cents per $100 of assessed value.

The property tax rate has stayed the same in the county since 2015, although the commissioners did authorize and increase of the income tax rate from 1.25 percent to 1.75 percent.

That move is expected to generate $500,000 for the county during the next fiscal year.

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