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Commissioners propose $143.8 million budget

CENTREVILLE — Anticipating falling revenues as a result of business closures and widespread unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners are proposing a fiscal 2021 budget of about $143.8 million, some $1.3 million less than the budget for the current year and down about $7 million from the county administrator’s proposed budget that was introduced before Maryland’s stay at home order was issued.

County budget director Jonathan Seeman has estimated revenue losses of about $4 million in fiscal 2020 and revenues some $8 million below earlier estimates for fiscal 2021. The proposed budget requires the use of about $2 million in revenue stabilization funds, which the county has in reserve.

The commissioners have instituted a hiring freeze; eliminated pay increases for county employees; declared no new positions will be created in fiscal 2021; reduced the capital budget; and asked departments to look for additional ways to cut their budgets by 5 percent.

The proposed budget includes maintenance of effort level funding for the board of education, which is an increase of $1.5 million over the $59,491,381 provided in 2020. The board had asked for an additional $5.6 million.

The county is proposing to leave the property tax rate at $0.8471 per $100 of assessed value rather than adopting the constant yield rate of $0.8358 per $100 of assessed value. The constant yield hearing is set for May 26.

The commissioners’ proposed fiscal 2021 capital budget is $40.6 million, which includes a bond sale of $19 million.

Highlights of this year’s capital budget include $6.7 million for school projects including the Kent Island High School roof replacement, a multiyear technology plan, and security upgrades; $6.5 million for the Kent Island Library expansion; $1.6 million for parks projects including athletic field and playground work; $5.3 million for the detention center renovation; $1.6 million for the county’s asphalt overlay/road resurfacing project; and $9.1 million in funding for the Southern Kent Island sewer project.

At the Tuesday, May 12, meeting, the commissioners discussed the possibility of pushing the detention center funding out a year.

Four people spoke in favor of the Kent Island Library expansion, including library director Janet Salazar.

Another meeting is planned for May 19 to discuss possible refinements to the proposed budget. Another work session is planned for June 4, and the commissioners plan to approve the final budget on June 9.

Resources for Marylanders and employees during COVID-19

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