Cumberland Times-News

Editorials

June 12, 2013

County budget faces reality, looks to future

Dear Allegany County residents:

The goals of Allegany County are expressed each fiscal year in our budget. This year’s budget reflects the economic and financial realities we face not only today but in the foreseeable future.

Like county commissioners before us, we must make tough decisions that prepare our county and future boards with a solid foundation. We have already made several difficult decisions and are required to do so again this year. For the first time for this board, the budget process was not overshadowed by the prospect of layoffs or furloughs for county employees.

However, we cannot relax. The loss of 90 percent of the county’s Highway User Funds and the shift of the State Teachers Pension Liability to the local level looms large and will preoccupy the county’s budgeting process and its financial commitments for many years to come.

For the first time in five years, our budget will provide an increase of $130,000 to Allegany College of Maryland. This will serve to eliminate one-third of the proposed tuition increase for students and their families for the upcoming school year.

For the first time in six years the county is able to give an increase to both Human Resources Development Commission and our library system. In compliance with Maryland State Law, this budget will achieve the state mandated Maintenance of Effort requirement for the board of education, which provides $378,000 over last year’s budget.

This budget also allows for a contingency fund to support school safety programs as may be recommended by the county Health Department and the Sheriff’s Office. Funding for education remains the county’s single highest priority and garners 80 percent of all outside appropriations made by the county.

In addition to supporting education, providing basic core services to our residents has been and remains a key priority. We have and will continue to work creatively with state and federal agencies to maximize the most favorable grant and loan opportunities available to our community.

Our Public Works Department is involved in the planning, design, or the construction of an estimated $50 million worth of public utility projects at this time.

Building upon our commitment from two years ago, this board will continue with a slight reduction in the county’s property tax rate of one-tenth of a penny as set forth in Resolution 1112. And, for the first time in recent memory, the county is prepared to set its tax rate below the constant yield rate.

In preparation for leaner times, the county has reduced its annual planned debt service. Again this year this board will not use the county’s fund balance to balance this budget. These basic strategies were viewed favorably by both Standard and Poor’s Rating Services (S&P) and Moody’s Investor Services, which chose to upgrade the county’s bond rating in 2013.

With the adoption of this budget, the county will accomplish these important goals:

1. A rate decrease in property taxes that equals one-tenth of a penny.

2. A budget which does not rely upon the county’s fund balance to fund internal or outside agency commitments.

3. Small budget increases for Allegany College of Maryland, the Allegany County Library System, HRDC, and the Allegany County Board of Education.

4. For the first time in four budget years, our budget provides an across the board COLA of three percent to county employees.

5. Cost saving initiatives that have helped control expenses included: refinancing existing debt to capture record low interest rates, block grant funding, and federal and state grants for water and sewer projects.

A complete copy of the budget will be available on the county’s website at www.gov.allconet.org in mid June.

The Board of County Commissioners

Michael W. McKay, president

Creade V. Brodie Jr. and William R. Valentine, commissioners

 

1
Text Only
Editorials
  • Wildfires Wildfires

    The huge woods fire in nearby Pennsylvania shows just how much devastation can take place when a blaze breaks out during early spring. In this case, 900 acres of forest — much of it public game land — became engulfed in flames.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Street flowers Street flowers

    Walk along Frostburg’s Main Street in the spring and summer and one can’t miss the beautiful floral arrangements that adorn the lampposts.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • First base First base

    The idea of spending up to $7,500 for a study about the possibility of bringing a minor league baseball team to the area should at least be allowed to reach first base.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Restore them Restore them

    There are an estimated 47,000 deceased veterans whose remains are unidentified and unclaimed throughout the U.S. A group of senators and congressmen hope to do something to
    bring these men and women some dignity after death.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Support the March for Babies May 3 at Canal Place

    At the March of Dimes, we promise to work tirelessly toward the day when all babies are born healthy.
    The March of Dimes has worked for more than 75 years to help babies get a healthy start in life.

    April 20, 2014

  • Happy Easter

    For the world’s more than 2 billion Christians, Easter is the day that defines their faith.
    The exact date of Christ’s resurrection is unknown, and even the precise locations of his crucifixion and burial are uncertain. This hasn’t stopped some people from saying they know the answer to these questions and others from trying to find out for themselves, or simply arguing about it.
     

    April 20, 2014

  • We concur We concur

    We’re certain that Donald Rumsfeld, who served as Secretary of Defense under Presidents Gerald Ford and George W. Bush, echoes what many Americans feel about the complexity of filing income tax returns.
    When he filed his return, Rumsfeld sent the following letter to the Internal Revenue Service:

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • The first step The first step

    If all goes as planned, Frostburg State University will one day offer a doctorate in nursing, a physician’s assistant program and a new health sciences building on campus.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Where to look Where to look

    Drive anywhere in Maryland and it seems there is one highway construction project after another. While it is good to see our roads and bridges being upgraded, it can be nerve-wracking for anyone traveling a long distance.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Library week

    Public libraries remain one of the best uses of taxpayer dollars. They are open to all. Young or old, poor or wealthy, residents can use computers and read current magazines and newspapers. Compact discs featuring a wide variety of music and
    movies on DVD may be checked out in addition to novels and other books.

    April 13, 2014