Cecil County

ELKTON — The Cecil County Council has signed off on some of County Executive Alan McCarthy’s proposal to spend down some of the Fiscal Year 2019 surplus, with the rest set for a public hearing at the end of the month.

Last week, the council unanimously voted to move a combined $3.6 million out of the general fund to pay for road maintenance, match funding for one fire engine and two ambulances, and Cecil College small capital requests.

McCarthy proposed funding these requests after the comprehensive annual financial report showed that Cecil County ended the previous fiscal year with a $7.5 million surplus. That sizable gap came from the McCarthy administration cautiously underestimating economic growth in terms of income and recordation taxes.

Breaking down the expenditures, $3 million will be spent on road maintenance, one of the consistent struggles the county has faced since the state slashed the Highway User Revenues in 2010. Council Vice President Jackie Gregory requested that the administration present the council a list of roads that were repaired with this funding once the money is spent in 2020.

McCarthy is also allocating funds to match three volunteer firefighter vehicle requests that he struck from the FY 2020 budget. Previously, McCarthy ended an informal agreement to outright pay a match to replace outdated vehicles and offered to fund what he could while focusing on other budgetary needs.

Last budget cycle was no different. The volunteer firefighters proposed $1 million for five vehicles, but McCarthy cut that request down to $450,000 for three vehicles.

This resolution makes the volunteer firefighters whole for their requests, with $350,000 match for a fire engine for Singerly Fire Company and $125,000 match per ambulance for both Water Witch Fire Company and North East Fire Company.

The third and final resolution the council passed re-allocates $50,000 to Cecil College. The money was earmarked for maintenance requests for the baseball pump shed and repairing an HVAC system.

Since Cecil College’s small capital budget is part of the county’s annual budget, anything unspent returns back to the county’s general fund. Moving the money back to the college would pay for the completion of the two projects.

With these resolutions done, the council is still facing another $400,000 in budget requests. Two forthcoming bills will allocate $250,000 to move forward with renovating a courtroom in the county’s circuit court and $150,000 to replace a failing culvert at Belvidere Road.

Both projects were put out to bid, but came out to cost more than what the McCarthy administration estimated earlier.

Another $2 million will be set aside for a one-time cash payment on other capital projects. It’s not yet clear what this will be spent on as the McCarthy administration has yet to decide, according to County Budget Manager Rebecca Anderson.

If the council approves these bills, the county will have $11.8 million in unassigned fund balance.

A public hearing is set for the two bills to add additional funds to the culvert replacement and courtroom renovations will be held on Jan. 21. The council will then vote on the items on Feb. 4.

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