Ocean City Today

County staff solves shortfall, presents balanced budget

By Brian Gilliland | May 10, 2018

(May 11, 2018) Worcester County’s budget committee of County Administrator Harold Higgins, Budget Manager Kathy Whited, and Treasurer Phil Thompson on Tuesday presented the county commissioners with a budget that covered a $9 million shortfall, increased wages for county employees and didn’t raise property taxes.

Having managed that, the county’s financial planners achieved the three goals the administration and staff established at the start of this year’s budget season.

The commissioners, their Tuesday work session, made additional changes to the document, and are expected to adopt the fiscal year 2019 budget on June 5.

Higgins said two concerns cropped up as the committee was evaluating the budget: aging capital equipment, such as vehicles, and nuisance problems, like discarded trash along county roads.

The commissioners did take some steps toward addressing these issues by buying additional equipment and approving the hire of two additional workers in the roads division.

Even so, revenues of approximately $190 million and expenses of $189.99 million left little breathing room.

One idea the commissioners endorsed was to end certain services provided at the Isle of Wight office, which is shared by the health, development review and permitting, environmental programs and treasurer divisions.

Commissioner Ted Elder proposed and the other commissioners agreed to end the services of all but the health and treasurer’s departments starting with the next fiscal year.

The other services are to be relocated to Snow Hill.

The Board of Education also did well, with a preliminary appropriation of about $107 million based on a request of about $108.3 million. Teacher salary steps, and a cost-of-living adjustment of one percent for those beyond the steps, were included, as were funds to revamp the athletic field at Stephen Decatur High School. Funding for new elementary school books as well as high school band uniforms were also approved.

A new position at the Board of Education, safety coordinator, will oversee security at all of the county schools was approved.

If necessary, the commissioners will hold an additional budget work session on May 22 in Snow Hill.

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