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Charles County Commissioners Adopt Fiscal 2021 Budget

La Plata, MD - On Tuesday, May 19, the Board of County Commissioners adopted a balanced General Fund budget of $433,441,200, an increase of 2% over last year. The adopted budget protects County Government core services, exceeds maintenance of effort funding for Charles County Public Schools and preserves necessary operations for the Sheriff’s Office.

“The budget outlook changed significantly since we started this process due to the COVID-19 pandemic, yet despite a challenging budget outlook we prioritized funding education above maintenance of effort,” stated Commissioner President Reuben B. Collins, II, Esq. “Instead of making additional investments, we recognized we needed to limit new spending. We ensured where it was essential to enhance services to protect public health and safety, we did so, maintaining core services to our citizens who need it the most during this time of need.”

While revenue growth in property taxes has been stable, economic stability is more fragile due to the closure of all non-essential businesses and significant unemployment that has occurred during the COVID-19 public health emergency. To address the shortfall in revenue, the county did not fully fund the budget requests from Charles County Public Schools and the Sheriff’s Office, which comprises approximately 71 percent of the budget. The county’s executive leadership team also identified several internal government efficiencies to reduce expenditures in next year’s proposed budget.

Budget Highlights
 

The General Fund budget funds the ongoing costs of government, and includes:

• $3.64 million increase for Charles County Public Schools, which exceeds maintenance of effort funding by $1.71 million. The total allocation, which also includes funding for the Charles County Public Library and College of Southern Maryland, is $210.1 million, or 48.5 percent, of the General Fund budget.

• $1.61 million increase for the Sheriff’s Office, to fund two new school resources officers and includes supporting the volunteers in community services (VICS) program which is no longer self-sufficient. The total allocation is $96.37 million, or 22.2 percent of the General Fund budget.

• $1.91 million increase for County Government operations, primarily to fund the additional emergency medical services crew in Waldorf, continues to support the mobile integrated health program for the medically underserved, and employment programs for our youth. The total allocation is $67.64 million, or 15.6 percent, of the General Fund budget.

• $1.59 million increase for other local government functions, including the State’s Attorney’s Office and the health department for a new position to triage and fast track inspections, meet debt obligations for the capital improvement program, and other expenditures to facilitate Commissioners’ goals and objectives.

The $656.5 million, five-year capital improvement program (fiscal 2021-2025) funds one-time expenditures that pay for community assets (schools, roads, parks, water and sewer, etc.), and includes:

• School modifications and improvements for Benjamin Stoddert Middle School and Eva Turner Elementary School and other school maintenance projects;

• College of Southern Maryland projects, including Health Training Facility at the Hughesville campus and renovations and wastewater treatment plant replacement at the La Plata campus;

• Transportation projects, including Western parkway, Old Washington Road reconstruction, and various upgrades;

• Construction of new facilities, including the new animal shelter, a new EMS station in Pinefield, La Plata Library, and developing Waldorf park;

• County technology investments to upgrade the radio communications system;

• Support of conservation programs to protect the county’s natural resources;

• Maintenance for county facilities, including the government building, the detention center and the Mattawoman Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The real property tax rate is $1.141 for County Government and $0.064 for Fire and Rescue per $100 of assessed value. The adopted fiscal 2021 budget details are available online at www.charlescountymd.gov/government/fiscal-and-administrative-services/budget/future-budget.

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