Commissioners Approve Budget For Hearing

Even though St. Mary’s County Commissioner Larry Jarboe now has three Republicans on the board with him, he still was the lone dissenter on the first of several important votes for the FY ’12 county budget. The commissioners voted 4-1 to take to an April 26 public hearing a proposed $192.6 million budget that retains the current tax rate of $.857 per $100 of assessment.
Jarboe had argued for a tax rate reduction of $.07 even though the proposed rate generates less revenue than the current year. Jarboe also criticized the increase in debt service for capital projects. He proposed delaying FDR Boulevard and the new Leonardtown Library beyond the proposed FY “15 budget.
The proposed budget includes almost a $2 million reserve than can be applied after the budget hearing. It also covers the possibility of the Maryland General Assembly passing down additional fiscal burden on the counties before they finish their session in April.
In supporting taking the proposed budget to public hearing, Commissioner Todd Morgan noted that St. Mary’s is the fastest growing county in the state, 19,000 new residents have been added in the last decade and yet the county has added no new employees. “I ask you to show me any company that can operate as efficiently as this.”
Morgan chided the St. Mary’s County Board of Education for submitting their final detailed budget two hours after the commissioners voted last week. He said the commissioners don’t have line item authority over the school board and don’t negotiate with employees. But Morgan did emphasize that he was a strong supporter of education.
The current school board budget, which is slightly higher than the mandated “maintenance of effort” includes a proposal for layoffs of non-tenured employees and four furlough. But the commissioners could use part or all of that $2 reserve for education.
In voting to support the budget that will go to public hearing, Commissioner Daniel Morris said he agreed with both Jarboe and Morgan. He said he was a supporter of education but he also agreed with Jarboe’s concern about debt service. Morgan noted the proposal was just that and can be changed.
Neither Commissioner President Francis “Jack” Russell nor Commissioner Cindy Jones commented on the budget at Tuesday’s meeting.
The public hearing will be April 26 at 6:30 p.m. at Great Mills High School. The commissioners then have until the end of May to finalize the budget.



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