CENTREVILLE — Queen Anne’s County Budget Director Jonathan Seeman unveiled a proposed fiscal 2020 budget of $144 million during the Tuesday, April 9, county commission meeting.

In five budget work sessions in March, county departments outlined their current expenses and additional needs for the coming budget period.

The proposed budget includes growth of $6 million, or 4.4 percent. That means an increase from $138.2 million in FY2019 to $144.2 million in FY2020.

Income and property taxes comprise 88 percent of the county’s revenue stream with income tax revenue expected to grow 8 percent and property taxes expected to experience a 1 1/2 percent increase.

The proposed budget maintains the existing property tax rate at $0.8471 per $100 of assessed value.

The constant yield rate is actually slightly higher, at $0.8472 per $100 of assessed value, Seeman said. The constant yield rate is the tax rate needed to result in the same amount of revenue from one year to the next.

That rate is determined in January and doesn’t take into account any new growth or construction, so even by keeping the slightly lower current rate, the county can expect to see the projected increase in income, he said.

The income tax rate will also remain at the current 3.2 percent.

Employee compensation increased 3 percent for county employees, while the Board of Education is being funded $1.4 million above maintenance of effort, bringing the total increase to their budget to $2.5 million.

The Board of Elections also saw in increase in funding for same-day voter registration.

FY2020 also reflects cost increases for county employee health benefits and retirees.

Additional funding has been earmarked for recreational programs and staffing for such programs.

Those departments receiving funds for employee recruitment and retention include the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Emergency Services, the Sanitary District and the Detention Center.

The proposed budget also includes continued funding for county-wide initiatives by the Health Department, the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office, and the Department of Emergency Services to continue addressing the opioid crisis in Queen Anne’s County.

Following the AAA bond rating for the county by two of the three credit agencies, FY2020 reflects a healthy surplus in case of economic downturn.

According to the report by Standard and Poor, “the county’s general obligation funds are eligible to be rated above the sovereign because we believe Queen Anne’s County can maintain better credit characteristics than the U.S. in a stress scenario.”

S&P further notes the county is in such position due to “strong” financial polices and practices with Queen Anne’s County showing strong budgetary flexibility and an available fund balance in FY2018 of more than 20 percent of operating expenditure.

Hearings on the proposed budget are scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, April 22, at Bayside Elementary School in Stevensville, Tuesday, April 23, at the Liberty building in Centreville, and Wednesday, April 24, at Sudlersvile Middle School. The commissioners have schedule a subsequent work session on Tuesday, May 21. Final adoption of the formal fiscal 2020 budget is expected to take place Tuesday, May 28.

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