Wico. Co. Council Passes $128.7 Million Budget For 2015 - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Wico. Co. Council Passes $128.7 Million Budget For 2015

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WICOMICO CO., Md. - Wicomico County Council voted to approve the $128.7 million budget for fiscal year 2015 by a 5-2 vote on Tuesday night.

The adopted budget will reportedly take effect on July 1st of this year.

County Executive Rick Pollitt says the council passed the budget with few changes to his proposed budget. According to reports, the county's Charter, Section 705, allows council to decrease or delete any items in the budget but cannot make additions or increases.

Pollitt says Tuesday night's vote marked the culmination of the open budgeting process that began in April, and for the first time, at his request, each of the council budget work sessions were televised on PAC14.

Reports say the adopted budget meets the Maintenance of Effort standard for public school funding and provides new funds for technology needs in the K-12 school system.  Furthermore, it reportedly provides for the completion of the Bennett Middle School project and commits funds for the planning of renovations to West Salisbury Elementary School, in addition to increased support for Wor-Wic Community College and the Wicomico Library.

However, after Wicomico County school officials asked for about $2 million more, this may fall short of their needs.

"There's never enough to do everything you want to do, but I think we've been very responsible with how we've applied the limited resources we have," says Pollitt. "We don't say were in recovery yet, we haven't recovered from the recession."

However, Pollitt says he does feel the county is on the way to doing so. The operational budget also reportedly provides significant funding for business development efforts through a $544,558 boost to create an economic development grant fund to spur entrepreneurship and new residential construction.

Pollitt says he also proposed to take $3.5 million from reserve accounts for a one-time infusion of funds for critical road maintenance projects.

The new real property tax rate will also reportedly increase. As of July 1, 2014, the rate is $.9516 per $100 of assessed value; the new Personal Property Tax Rate is $2.1715.

 

Wicomico County officials also highlighted other areas of the budget:

Education:

  • Wor-Wic Community College – total $4 million
    • Restores Wicomico County's proportionate share of tuition costs,
    • Funds the Adult Basic Education program, and
    • Funds campus safety and security enhancements 
    • Board of Education – total $51 million
      • Funds Maintenance of Effort (MOE) requirements and provides additional funding for technology in classrooms,
      • Funds the completion of Bennett Middle School construction, and
      • Funds preliminary architectural work for West Salisbury Elementary School
      • Wicomico Library – total $1.2 million
        • Restores Sunday hours during the school year

Operating and Investments in County Roads and Infrastructure:

  • Department of Public Works /Roads – $8 million
    • Investment in one time capital spending to render roads more self-sufficient in light of state Highway User Revenue (HUR) cuts
    • Funds Phase 3 for Westside Collector project
    • Watershed Improvement – total $200,000
      • Continued investment in environmental projects to address WIP mandates

Invests in Entrepreneurship and Business Development:

  • Investment in Economic Development
    • Provides grants dedicated to stimulating the construction of single family homes: $387,000
    • Establishes funds to initiate a business incubator program to help new businesses: $157,000
    • Henry S. Park Complex improvements to match state grants to further position the county for national and regional sporting events ($1 million to match state grant of $1 million)
    • Wicomico Youth & Civic Center improvements ($1 million match state grant of $1 million)

Critical services:

  • Wicomico County Health Department – total $3.4 million
    • Maintains health department programs, and
    • Funds state mandated salary and overhead increases
    • Law Enforcement – an additional $1 million
      • Funds command staff and FOP death and disability trust
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