County Comment: County Takes 2008 Budget to Public Hearing

County Comment
County Takes 2008 Budget to Public Hearing
by Norman Bassett
Washington County Public Information Officer

The Washington County Board of County Commissioners took a proposed $309 million budget for Fiscal Year 2008 to Public Hearing on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007, at Kepler Theater on the Hagerstown Community College campus.
County Administrator Gregory B. Murray presented the budget, as required under the Tax Property Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, Sections 2-205 and 6-308.
Murray told some one hundred-fifty citizens that the proposed balanced budget increases funding for Schools and Public Safety in Washington County and increases funding for pay-as-you-go projects, which help hold the line on additional borrowing.
The property tax rate remains at 94.8 cents per $100 of full assessed value, the same rate as 2007. Murray said that rate has not increased since FY 2001.
For 2008, the General Fund budget is $196.2 million. The Capital Improvement Fund totals $69.9 million. The Water Quality Fund is $16.3 million. The Solid Waste Fund totals $9.5 million, while the Highway Fund will be $9.6 million. Other Funds account for $7.4 million, with the grand total being $ 309,071,744.00.
Of the $196 million General Fund (GF) budget, the majority of revenue is generated by property tax. Other sources of revenue are income and recordation taxes, fees, and revenues from grants.
Murray said that the greatest portion of county GF expenditures, $99 million goes for education, and includes Public Schools, the Public Library system and Hagerstown Community College. Public funding for the Sheriff's Department, fire and rescue, and animal control services accounts for $32 million. Capital Costs, Services and other expenditures make up the remainder of categories in the GF budget.
Property Taxes contribute $109 million to General Fund revenues, Local Taxes contribute $75 million, Interest adds $3.4 million, Services add $5.2 million and Grants account for $3.3 million of the revenue total.
The General Fund expenditures and revenues are balanced at 196.2 million.
Of the $70 million Capital Improvement Project (CIP) Fund, 54% or $34.6 million will go to school construction in FY 2008, for Maugansville, Rockland Woods and Pangborn elementary schools. Over the 6-year Capital School Program, $190.5 million has been allotted for school construction. The proposal contains a new primary school in the eastern portion of the County, a new high school in Hagerstown, and additions and renovations to Boonsboro Elementary, E. Russell Hicks Middle and Bester Elementary schools.
Many of the 22 citizens speaking thanked the Commissioners for funding in support of education including Hagerstown Community College and the Library system. The hearing was cablecast live on ACTV channel 99. Written comments will be taken for a ten-day period. Those wishing to comment in writing should address letters to Commissioners, 100 West Washington Street, Hagerstown Maryland, 21740, or use the Board's email address: comnmissioners@washco-md.net.
The Commissioners are scheduled to review and adopt the proposed budget on June 12th during the regularly scheduled meeting.