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More taxes, no pay increase for Charles County employees

Charles County residents have to be asking themselves in the wake of the Charles County Commissioners’ decision June 10 to raise the constant yield tax rate yet once again, was it all smoke and mirrors when Commissioner Debra Davis made a grand display back on May 20 of asking Finance Director David Eicholtz to return June 10 with a balanced budget that included no tax increase for residents and a pay increase for county employees.

At one point during the morning budget work session this past Tuesday, it looked as though the commissioners had in place a solution by which they would be able to do just that.

In the end, however, it was the same old story for Charles County citizens as they ended up with higher taxes and no pay increase for county employers, and Davis was one of the three votes on the board who ensured the status quo, with the fifth tax increase being levied on citizens in as many years.

District 3 Commissioner Reuben Collins and Bobby Rucci were the other two votes for the tax increase and no pay raise in a 3-2 decision.

How a deal which seemed in place Tuesday morning unraveled by the evening 6 p.m. decision seems predicated on Collins’ insistence that to give county employees a step pay grade increase “was not financially prudent” at this time.

Commissioner President Candice Quinn Kelly, who along with Commissioner Ken Robinson [District 1] voted against the General Fund Operating Budget which put all of this in place, said the opportunity was there to give the citizens and county employees a break, but with the leanings of the board these days, the deal fell apart before it could manifest.

“I thought we had the opportunity today to do the right thing by Board of Education and our teachers and correctional officers their step increases,” Kelly said. “I am terribly disappointed. It was there. It was possible, reasonably prudent and the right thing to do. And for our county employees to not get a step pay increase when they have not had one is what is most disappointing to me.

“Even as we say we are proud and promoting a reduction in crime by our sheriff’s office, we can’t give them a step pay increase when they haven’t had one in three years?” Kelly added. “I cannot support this General Operating budget. I am terribly disappointed. I believe an alternative was provided which would have resulted in no tax increase and a pay raise for our employees.”

“The proposal that would close the deficit would have put us in a significant deficit going into the Fiscal Year 2016 budget,” Collins countered. “I just feel it is better to be prepared as we move responsibly forward, and it puts us in a better position knowing what our actual situation is and will allow a more reasonable approach to salaries or whatever in the future. The impact of what was property revenue sources which were one time revenue sources, I did not feel that was fiscally prudent.”

The rate of tax for fiscal year 2015 on all real property subject to real property taxation was fixed at $1.141 per $100 assessed valuation and the rate of tax for fiscal year 2015 on all public utility property, railroad personal, corporate personal and business personal property subject to taxation was set at $2.8525 per $100 of assessed valuation. The fire and rescue tax on all public utility property, railroad personal, corporate personal and business personal property subject to taxation was fixed at $0.16 per $100 assessed valuation and the commissioners set the tax differential rate for fiscal year 2015 for the

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