Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner introduced a $665.8 million fiscal year 2021 budget, a 4.4 percent increase from last year.
In her budget address Wednesday, Gardner said she might introduce a supplemental budget later this year to the County Council, after it’s clearer what revenue estimates might look like due to the coronavirus pandemic. She said income tax was likely impacted in the last month or so, since parts of the economy were shut down.
In an interview, Gardner said the county brought income tax revenue estimates down by $10 million to $12 million, but a strong underlying economy and good reserve levels mean the county is in a good position.
The county’s two largest sources of revenue are property and income tax, accounting for roughly 53 percent and 35 percent of the budget, respectively. The proposed budget anticipates about $352.7 million in property taxes and $236.2 million in income taxes.
The proposed property tax rate remains at $1.06 per $100 of assessed value, the same rate as fiscal year 2020.
For now, Gardner said she is forgoing all budget appeals from divisions and agencies due to the coronavirus pandemic — except for adding 13 firefighters/emergency medical technicians in order to staff the Northgate fire station in northwestern Frederick. That station is scheduled to open later this year.
The budget currently allocates just under $1.58 million for those positions.
“I don’t want to open a fire station and not have it staffed, and we’ve definitely needed that station for a number of years,” Gardner said.
Discussions about a possible supplemental budget to fund more budget requests could happen either in the middle of this year or toward the fall, based on what it takes for the economy to recover.
The county also currently has roughly $51 million in reserves, Gardner said, but the proposed budget doesn’t spend any of those, and she “has no plan to dip into them at this point.”
Counties across the state are keeping an eye on how their economies might recover from the coronavirus pandemic, and how a possible second wave of the virus might further impact the economy, Gardner said.
“I really think what you’re going to hear from every county is the state is they don’t know,” Gardner said about the upcoming months and overall impact on the budget. “We’re all making our best projections, our best guesses.”
The County Council is scheduled to have a virtual public hearing on the budget on April 21 at 6 p.m. Public comment can be emailed to email@example.com or sent by phone to 301-600-1135.