Despite some changes in revenue, Frederick County is on track to meet or be near many of its budgeted revenue totals this fiscal year.
County Finance Director Lori Depies and some of her colleagues presented the second quarter of the county’s general fund financial statement to the council Tuesday, helping them understand the county’s financial picture before the budget process begins next month.
Property and income taxes are the first- and second-highest generators of revenue for the county, respectively, bringing in roughly $331.4 million and $83.4 million in the second fiscal quarter, according to the statement.
Depies said after the meeting that council members have asked for quarterly financial reports from her office in order to help them through the overall budget process, something not seen by the previous County Council.
One topic of discussion Tuesday was a possible change regarding how the gas tax may be collected in the future. Depies said the state is looking at shifting to a “capital transportation grant model,” instead of getting the vehicle gasoline revenue.
“We’re not exactly sure how that’s going to pan out, [but] we do know the one grant for last year was cut,” Depies said, referring to a $1.4 million grant in user highway revenue, which is what local jurisdictions use to help fund road improvement projects.
Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater asked about this grant at the meeting, and Depies said she and her staff are looking at Annapolis this session to see how the methodology might be changed regarding those grants and the overall gas tax statewide.
“They’re considering legislation this session that would change the allocation methodology,” Depies said. “We used to take it on the gas tax, but we now will see it on a road-miles basis.”
Regarding the possibility of an economic recession — an idea being discussed by several economists and financial analysts — Depies said County Executive Jan Gardner has increased reserve funds during her time in office, which would help if a recession occurs.
She said Gardner specifically put more money in the bond rating enhancement reserve for fiscal 2020, which should bode well for the county in case a recession does occur.
“We’re well-cushioned, we’re well-positioned for a recession,” Depies said. “If we end up with a budget surplus here at the end of the [fiscal] year, we’ll encourage her to tuck some money away for a rainy day, but we think we’re in pretty decent shape.”