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
Dear Allegany County residents:
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.
Celebrate Earth Day every day: Reduce, reuse and recycle
April 1 marked the beginning of April Envi- ronmental Education Month in Maryland — and with Earth Day coming up on April 22, Maryland has much to celebrate.
Support Canal classrooms with tax-deductible gift
While your April 17 article (“Park Service opens Canal classrooms,” Page 1A) described this exciting program accurately, your readers may be wondering how they can help support this new educational opportunity for school children in Allegany County.
Ivan Hall story brings back memories of a unique man
I enjoyed Mike Sawyers’ Ivan Hall story. It was well written and brought back some wonderful memories of my Cumberland days and especially, an unique man.
It’s a secret
Could someone enlighten us about why not even the names of the two entities bidding on development of the Footer Dye Works building can be divulged?
A Times-News article about the bids included an explanation from a lawyer for the attorney general’s office about the need to keep the names and other information secret at this time. Despite that, the logic of not divulging at least a little more information escapes us.
What do we do about those who weren’t criminals after all?
Now that Maryland has become the 17th state to (finally) decriminalize possession of marijuana, one could say that the legislature and governor should be patted on the back for doing the right thing.
Which approach to the school makes sense?
What exactly is the long-range plan, according to the Allegany County Commissioners?
I’ve read in the Cumberland Times-News that the current County Commissioners intend to spend $9 million to construct a new high school.
H.O.G. Rally coming to Cumberland in June
Let me introduce myself. My name is Francine Kraft and I am the Maryland/Delaware State H.O.G. Rally Coordinator for 2014.
With a team of seven others, we have put together a rally for June 19-22 to be held in Cumberland.
Access to trout ponds hard for those who have trouble walking
I took my 5-year-old grandson Easton, who lives in Cumberland, to the Evitts Creek three ponds on March 31, the day it was stocked with trout.He had the joy and excitement of catching his first trout and two more. I have a Maryland fishing license and trout stamp.
Wait long enough; they will die off without being cared for
The letter to the editor of April 14 (“Military veterans have few friends in Washington, D.C.”), I am afraid, hit the nail on the head — sort of — about this next set of returning veterans.
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