— CUMBERLAND — Allegany County commissioners are expected to vote on a fiscal year 2015 operating budget next week. The proposed budget includes a 3 percent raise for county employees.
“At this time I expect the budget to be passed as presented,” said commission president Mike McKay. The proposed budget has been presented at a series of commission meetings, including meetings designed for public comment, over the past two months.
McKay said putting the budget together wasn’t an easy task.
“As for the most important thing the citizens need to know about the FY 2015 budget is that our projected revenue for income tax is expected to drop by an estimated 850,000-plus dollars. This projected loss in revenue greatly limited our ability to fund outside agencies
with much of the increases they requested. Overall, the General Fund FY 2015 budget will be approximately $525,000 less than last year’s budget,” McKay said.
Even so, McKay said there’s reason for optimism.
“We are living within our means, just like every household does. The proposed budget does not utilize our fund balance and we are sticking to our commitment to again reduce the real estate tax,” McKay said. Commissioners lowered the property tax rate for the fourth year in a row by a tenth of a cent.
About 50 percent of the county’s revenue comes from local property taxes, another 28 percent comes from local income tax, and state and federal revenues account for about 12 percent of the budget. Other funding sources make up the remaining county revenue. While overall property assessments were down, revenue from property taxes was slightly up, County Finance Director Jason Bennett has said.
County commissioners have already committed new revenue, expected to be about $700,000 a year, coming in from the Rocky Gap Casino Resort slots operations. The money will go to a program that funds, in large part, scholarships to Allegany College of Maryland and Frostburg State University, with smaller sums for other programs, including fire and rescue services.