As the County Council moves toward the end of its time working on the budget, it’s important the people of Frederick are aware of the things their tax dollars are paying for.
This year’s budget once again maintains a property tax rate of $1.06, the exact same rate as it was when we took office in 2014. We have successfully lived within our means.
For the fourth straight year, Frederick County Public Schools was funded at a level above maintenance of effort. FCC employees were given a step, and staffing has been added to the library system so that the beautiful new library in Walkersville can run all of its programs. In our capital budget, a new library in Myersville has been funded; residents there can look forward to a new building that, like Walkersville, reflects the heritage of the town.
Citizens and Montevue are running well. As promised, the revenue from Citizens is helping to pay for some of the assisted living expenses in Montevue — at no cost to taxpayers. As a matter of fact, if we had sold the buildings, the county would have needed to bring several million dollars to the table at settlement.
Two major park construction projects are in the works. Residents in the Jefferson, Burkittsville and Brunswick areas have long awaited the construction of Othello Park. It breaks ground this summer. Utica Park will also be upgraded as we begin Phase Two construction there. If you are a bike rider or enjoy spending time outside, we have set aside $4.7 million for the design and construction of trail projects.
A number of stream restoration projects, storm drainage improvements and reforestation projects are taking place as part of our Office of Sustainability’s effort to meet Clean Water Act mandates. These programs are not only green, they’re fiscally responsible. Our county would face fines from the state — at a rate of thousands of dollars per day — if we did not meet our requirements. While some on the council have said we should cut this and move the money to other areas of need, I think that decision risks our county’s long-term finances far too much for a potential short-term gain.
If you are driving into Middletown from the south, you’ll see the new Middletown fire station that is being built and should be finished and equipped later this year. In addition to helping our volunteer firefighters continue in their tradition of service, we are also adding more career fire and rescue personnel. We have added 75 new fire and rescue positions, as well as adding deputies and 911 call-takers. If you have an emergency, Frederick County will be ready and equipped to assist you.
Our budgets and money management have helped earn Frederick County one of the best bond ratings in the country. We are one of fewer than 50 counties in the U.S. that has an AAA rating from all three major bond rating companies. This saves us money for capital projects and other bond-financed items.
This is the final budget that the first elected County Council will complete. I have voted for all four budgets, and it has been my pleasure to help Frederick County move forward.
To read this article on The Frederick News Post, click here.