Although some commissioners were unsatisfied with aspects of their budget, Frederick’s Board of County Commissioners approved the fiscal 2013 budget with little debate Thursday by a vote of 4-1, with Commissioner David Gray (R) voting against it.
The $471 million operating budget includes raises for county employees and tax rebates for county taxpayers. The rebates will be sent to individual property owners in September. Commissioners also approved a $43 million capital budget for 2013, and a $480 million capital budget for 2013 to 2018.
Commissioner Paul Smith (R) again asked his fellow commissioners to reconsider adding $113,000 to the budget for 10 nonprofit agencies. His only ally was Gray.
Commissioners had previously debated Smith’s recommendation, and Commissioners’ President Blaine R. Young (R) took him to task for being selective in which nonprofits should receive help. Young also chided Smith for not giving personally to the agencies he was promoting.
Thursday, Smith said he gives plenty of time and money to charities, but that his personal contributions should not be an issue in the discussion.
“Whether or not as an individual I give to one or another, shouldn’t exclude me from my obligation as an elected leader to do what’s best for the county,” Smith said.
Smith told The Gazette recently that he plans to continue to try and change his colleagues’ minds about the benefits of funding nonprofits before the 2014 budget discussions.
Commissioner Kirby Delauter (R) had reservations about the 2013 budget, too, but his concerns centered on finding ways to cut spending, an issue he vowed to work on in the next year.
Although the county reduced the deficit from more than $30 million to $12.8 million, Delauter said the economy has still not recovered enough for the county to sit on its laurels. “I don’t think we are out of the woods yet ...on the economy,” Delauter said. “Nobody’s comfortable right now. And to sit up here as an elected official and put on rose-colored glasses and act like everything’s just great, it’s not.”
Young echoed Delauter, warning the state may push more of the obligation for teacher pension funds onto local governments next year, and that fiscal problems at the federal level would trickle down to state and local governments. He’s also concerned about the deficit in the fire and rescue division, and said the fire tax is “broken,” and that the county cannot continue to subsidize those funds from the general fund.
Overall, Young said he was pleased with the budget and that the commissioners had made strides in cutting recurring expenses through layoffs and attrition of county employees, increasing employee contributions to the pension fund, and spending reductions.
“I am proud of this budget,” Young said. “This budget accomplishes two things number one, our word and also compassion for the taxpayer.”
Young said there are 1,400 nonprofits in the county and commissioners should not be picking and choosing which of them to support. He suggested area churches and businesses should participate in charitable giving.
“No one enjoys saying no,” Young said. “...I heard that this budget has no heart, but this budget does have heart. It has compassion for the taxpayers and for the future.”