The Frederick County Council passed its $717 million budget Tuesday night for the upcoming fiscal year, keeping the tax rate the same for the seventh year in a row. While that may seem like good news for property owners, it really isn’t.
Since a homeowner’s tax is based on the tax rate multiplied by the assessed property value, that annual tax is most likely going to be higher when the bills come out July 1, especially at a time when property values are hitting record highs.
Republican council members Steve McKay and Phil Dacey tried to cut the rate by a few cents during the council’s review process, meaning the council would have had to ax about $6 million from the budget. But they were rebuffed by others on the council, so the county’s budget grew by about 8 percent.
We recognize that there are some costs that can’t be cut. Education funding, which is roughly half of the budget, is mandated by the state, though it should be pointed out that the new budget includes $21.5 million more than required.
That extra education funding might very well be necessary as are the other approved expenditures. We’re not looking to do a line-by-line analysis of the budget.
But we do want to point out that maintaining the current tax rate doesn’t mean there’s not a tax increase. And in a year like we just had, we would have hoped the county could have found a way to keep the actual out-of-pocket money being spent on taxes from going up.
One thing we’ve learned during the pandemic is that hospitals need more space — specifically for critical-care patients.
It’s a sad reality, but one we’re glad Frederick Health Hospital is taking seriously, and has been for some time. Before the pandemic hit, FHH began the process of a $45.8 million undertaking to expand and redesign the adult and pediatric emergency departments, enlarge the behavioral health treatment space, enhance the intensive care unit and more.
The project reached a major milestone Wednesday when FHH leadership celebrated the installation of a steel support beam that was marked with messages and signatures from those who helped get them to that point.
Nobody ever wants to go to the emergency room, but we are eased knowing that Frederick’s hospital is making the necessary changes to continue treating its patients.
If the past few weeks at the gas pump taught us anything, it’s that the cost of fuel is volatile. The Colonial Pipeline, which was hacked, provides about 45 percent of the East Coast’s supply of diesel, gas and jet fuel. Anything that we can do to become less dependent on gasoline is a good thing.
So it was great this week to see that Frederick County is looking at slowly transitioning its fleet of 1,200 vehicles to electric power. The county has joined with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments to commission a study to look at any potential money that could be saved and the impact on greenhouse gas emissions should the county buy or lease electric vehicles such as its fleet of sedans and small SUVs. And as we saw on Tuesday when President Biden visited a Ford facility in Michigan where he drove the new F-150 electric pickup, technology is progressing on these vehicles quickly.
If the costs are comparable, and the county can decrease its dependence on gasoline, electric and/or hybrid vehicles certainly make sense. It could make good financial and environmental sense.
OK, it was bad enough that we have to deal with the return of the Brood X cicadas. But now people want to eat them?
“I remember distinctly that at the time, it tasted like a crispy, salty-ish snack,” someone told the Washington Post about trying them the last time they emerged in 2004.
We guess at some point, people will eat just about anything, so we’ll admit we’re being a bit naive to think that these creepy, crawly, crunchy things wouldn’t find themselves into someone’s recipe. After all, we have heard of people eating chocolate-covered ants, grasshoppers or crickets. A quick Google search will tell you that they are rich in protein.
But for us here at the FNP, it’s a hard pass.
Yeas and nays is a weekly feature of quick-hit opinions from The Frederick News-Post’s editorial board. Send your suggestions to email@example.com.