Frederick County government appears to have emerged from the last budget year with roughly $74 million in unspent funds, far more than officials had expected.

The figure is an estimate based on unaudited county finances, but it’s the highest balance in recent memory and a “once-in-a-career opportunity,” Chief Administrative Officer Rick Harcum said.

During the onset of the pandemic, local officials braced for county tax revenues to plummet. As a result, county government was especially conservative in its spending.

Moreover, large county businesses found ways to adapt and avoid mass layoffs, Harcum said, and higher-than-expected income taxes contributed to the current fund balance.

Plans have been laid out for use of much of the fund balance, which came for the fiscal year that ended June 30. The council on Tuesday approved $32 million for the county to purchase and upgrade a 26-acre property on Oak Street in Frederick, and Councilman Michael Blue (R) is pushing for some homeowners to receive a $175 property tax rebate, which would account for another $7.5 million.

Roughly $27 million will be carried over to the county’s 2023 fiscal year budget, Chief Financial Officer Lori Depies said. This leaves between $5 million and $10 million of the fund balance for County Executive Jan Gardner (D) to put toward a series of initiatives she plans to introduce in the coming weeks.

At the state level, larger-than-expected revenue growth — largely a result of federal stimulus funds — resulted in a $2.5 billion fund balance, according to the Maryland comptroller’s office. The Baltimore Sun reported last year’s state surplus was $585 million.

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(5) comments

gjthuro

Not even a thought of giving it back to those who paid the taxes.....nah, lets spend it all

Frayou

How much of the State, County and local tax surplus are results of Federal Covid related relief? Federal relief which State, County and local taxes which would have been spent otherwise, if not due to Covid expenses?

AOC

Excellent question! Doubtful FCG will share that. CE Gardner and CC are undoubtedly trying to invent ways to squander the windfall. Based on recently announced programs, Gardner plan $1000 for all vaccinated employees and Blue's plan of returning property tax money to the 50% of who paid the fewest taxes, who knows what they will do next?

$50 for every county employees who "buckles up" when driving a county vehicle?

matthewboh

City residents overpay to the county. Do-nothing Mayor Michael has not gone to the county for the tax differential for years. Some people think that a review of the tax differential would save city residents $1,000 per year. Write in Jennifer for Mayor. Michael is costing me too much money.

FrederickFan

Better question is why do city residents get few services from the city at a very high cost? Most services to city residents are provided by the county - education, libraries, senior centers, fire and EMS, 9-1-1, health, Transit, and the list goes on and on. The city needs better management.

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