Worcester County Retains Current Tax Rates

June 7, the Worcester County Commissioners approved the fiscal year 2016/2017 (FY17) Operating Budget of $188,872,655 in appropriations for the coming fiscal year.  This reflects an increase of $6,422,546 or 3.5% more than the FY16 budget while reducing the requested expenditures of $193.9 million by $5 million.

The approved FY17 budget maintains tax rates at their current levels of 83.5¢ per $100 of assessed value for real property taxes and 1.75% for the County’s local income tax rate.  Due to increasing assessments, Real Property Tax Revenue is projected to increase by $2,625,098 in FY17.

The Commissioners would like to thank County departments and agencies for maintaining and or reducing operating expenses wherever possible. This fiscally conservative budget maintains funding for valuable public services residents can count on, such as public safety, education, infrastructure and existing social service programs.

Anticipated General Fund Revenues

  • Based on the Real Property tax rate of $.835 NET property taxes increased by $2,748,906. 
    • The Homestead Credit cap remains unchanged at 3% and is estimated to be $1,243,925 for the County’s qualified principal resident homeowners effective July 1, 2016.
  • Local Income Tax rate remains the same at 1.75% which began January 1, 2016. Revenues are anticipated to increase by $3,400,000 over the current year based on actual receipts and increased estimates for a full year of local income tax revenue.
  • Other Local Taxes increased by $287,500 and includes an increase of $250,000 in Transfer Taxes and an increase in Room Tax of $97,500 based on current year estimates. 
  • State Shared revenues increased $22,061 mainly due to a slight increase in Highway User Revenues.
  • Federal Grants projects decreased by $30,800 which includes a decrease in funding of $31,990 for the Emergency Shelter Grant.
  • State Grants increased by $105,128 mainly due to Waterway Improvement Grant funds for Shell Mill and Public Landing boat ramps.
  • Licenses and Permits increased $2,250; changes include increased estimates for Liquor Licenses of $25,000 which reflect the amended fees enacted by the State.  Also included are decreases to the bi-annual Occupational Licenses of $28,000.
  • Charges for Services decreased by $50,918 mainly due to reductions in Community Service Fees of $23,000 and First Offender Program Fees of $65,000 both due to the State legalization of medical marijuana.
  • Interest on Investments decreased by $50,000 due to lower outstanding note balances and rates of return below 1%.
  • Transfers in:
    • Other Funds decreased by $1,147,279 based on the final transfer in of bond premium proceeds that occurred in the current year FY2016. 
    • Transfers In of existing Budget Stabilization Funds increased by $1,167,799 which will be passed through to the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund to cover the cost of Recycling at $663,294 and Homeowner Convenience Centers at $504,505.
    • Planned use of Casino/Local Impact Grant Funds decreased by $13,101 for the debt payment for the Worcester Career and Technical High School in FY17.    

Major Approved General Fund Expenditures

County Departments and Agencies:

Significant increases and decreases are outlined as follows:

  • Elections Office increased $129,858 mainly due to the new statewide voting system
  • Sheriff’s Department increased $477,787
    • Increased by $274,265 in salaries and includes 3 new Deputy Sheriff positions
    • Increased by $11,424 for new computers for office staff and road patrol
    • Increased by $164,990 for a total of 8 new and replacement patrol vehicles
    • Increased by $84,635 for public safety electronic equipment for new vehicles
    • Decreased by $31,000 due to the animal control building improvement to be completed in the current year
  • Emergency Services increased $202,395
    • Increased by $59,440 in salaries and includes a new Electronic Services Technician position which will assist the County and multiple agencies with mobile and desktop radio installations and support
    • Increased by $112,621 mainly due to radio maintenance contracts and supplies and software maintenance agreements
    • Increased by $24,000 for a van to equip with radio supplies for the Technician 
  • County Jail increased $465,259
    • Increased by $218,677 in salaries and includes a new Correctional Officer for inmate coverage and other adjustments
    • Increased by $140,712 for the inmate medical contract with additional medical coverage
    • Increased by $136,185 for a new transportation vehicle, replacement of the camera system and replacement equipment for the Jail’s sprinkler system
  • Volunteer Fire and Ambulance increased $198,247
    • Fire Company Grants increased by $100,000 due to an increased base grant of $235,000 for each volunteer fire company (additional $10,000 per fire company) which also reflects increased property assessments applied to existing formulas
    • Ambulance Grants increased $64,828 based on the funding formulas and additional personnel staffing
  • Public Works - Maintenance Division decreased $159
    • Increased by $96,024 in salaries and includes 2 new Building Maintenance Mechanics
    • Increased by $25,622 for replacement of equipment and tools for maintaining buildings  
    • Decreased by $127,400 for capital equipment purchases completed in the current year
  • Public Works - Roads Division decreased $189,624
    • Increased by $74,964 for the State Transportation Highway Grant for road repairs
    • Decreased by $90,296 to replace 1 bridge which will be reimbursed 80% by the State
    • Increased by $61,110 to remove and replace overhead doors at Snow Hill facility
    • Decreased by $23,404 for heavy equipment including tractors and equipment 
    • Decreased by $247,664 for dump trucks and snow plows purchased in the current year
    • Level funded $1,000,000 for blacktop materials for local road paving
  • Boat Landings increased $102,700
    • Increased by $80,000 to cover Public Landing boat ramp improvements and increased by $50,000 for Shell Mill parking lot resurfacing, both to be reimbursed by Maryland Department of Natural Resources at 100% to the County
    • Decreased $30,000 due to current year funding for Taylor Landing crabbing pier
  • Wor-Wic Community College increased $143,719
    • Increased by $143,719; Worcester County local funding allocation is 29.2%  
  • Recreation Department increased $20,315
    • Increased by $39,253 in salaries and includes a Recreation Program Manager I
    • Decreased by $49,651 in Program Open Space grants from the State
    • Increased by $31,460 in various Recreation Programs and the new fitness center
  • Taxes shared with Towns increased $343,500 for income taxes passed through to Towns
  • Grants to Towns increased $97,000
    • Increased $134,000 in grants to Towns and Ocean Pines Association
    • Decreased by $37,000 for pass through fire grants to Municipalities and Ocean Pines Association based on actual credit runs
  • Insurance & Benefits increased by $1,957,340
    • Increased by $398,529 based on an estimated increase of 4.6% for health benefits
    • Increased by $1,000,000 for transfer to Other Post Employment Benefits 
    • Increased by $272,830 for Retirement contributions due to increased State rates
    • Increased by $158,598 for Workers Compensation insurance
    • Increased by $26,714 in property & liability insurance due to a premium increase
  • Debt Service increased $221,013
    • Increased due to 2015 bond for County projects and existing debt
  • Interfund Charges decreased $318,784
    • Increased by $663,294 for Transfers Out to Recycling for the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund
    • Increased by $504,505 for Transfers Out to Homeowner Convenience Centers for the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund
    • Decreased by $1,486,583 for Transfer to Budget Stabilization Fund in the current year
  • Salary accounts increased for eligible employees with a step increment of 2.5% in July 2016 and a mid-year step increment of 2.5% in January 2017.  Also included is a longevity bonus for eligible employees with at least 20-years of County service.
    • Since July 1, 2008, County employees have only received one step increment over the past seven fiscal years due to the economic downturn.  Providing a mid-year step increment will benefit seasoned employees in recognition of their years of experience with the County.  

Board of Education

The County allocation for the Board of Education’s operating budget is $81,650,139, an increase of $2,478,505 over the current year adopted budget as shown below.

School Construction debt is paid by the County on behalf of the Board of Education. It is not reflected in the Board’s budget; however, it is included in the County’s operating budget.  The Board’s approved Operating budget of $81,650,139 plus debt service of $10,765,450 totals $92,415,589 or 49% of the County’s total estimated revenue.

Approved Budget
Approved Budget
Dollar Variance
+/- FY2017
County Appropriation $81,193,802* $76,766,472 +4,427,330
County Appropriation - Retirement Expense for Non-Teachers $456,337 $452,674 +3,663
County Appropriation - County Share of Teacher Pensions 0 $1,952,488 -1.952,488
Subtotal County Appropriation $81,650,139 $79,171,634 +2,478,505
State and Other Funding Sources $19,759,725 $19,795,178 -35,453
Subtotal Unrestricted Budget $101,409,864 $98,966,812 +2,443,052
Restricted - State and Federal Programs $5,865,000 $6,087,000 -222,000
Restricted - State-funded Teachers Retirement and Pensions $6,937,419 $6,863,885 +73,534
Total $114,212,283 $111,917,697 +2,294,586

*Fiscal 2017 required Maintenance of Effort (MOE) level of $79,480,752 is affected by two changes:

1.    MOE calculated under Section 5-202(d) of the Education Article must be based on the total per pupil appropriation for FY16 including the amount added into FY16 for the Local Share of Teacher pension, enacted as Section 18 of BRFA of 2012, special session

a.    The required 1% increase equates to an additional funding estimate of $761,792 for FY2017.

2.    An MOE escalator provision will take effect in FY17. This provision was enacted as part of Senate Bill 848 of 2012, Section 5-202(d)(ii)2. Although the escalator was set to take effect in FY15, the statewide average was negative for FY15 and FY16.

Board of Education budget increases:

  • The salary package for the Board of Education reflects a payroll increase of 2.3%, which includes a step, longevity step for those eligible and 1% for those beyond steps.
  • The bus contracts account increase over FY16 is $40,132 and reflects a 1% increase to bus contractor’s hourly rate and mileage rate effective July 1, 2016. An additional $56,064 is included for contractors purchasing 7 new buses.
  • Starting Teacher pay will increase 2.2% from $42,433 to $43,384.  In FY17 step 1 will be increased by $951 to be the same pay as step 2.
  • Fixed Charges increased $2,847,011 over the current year budget
    • Increased by $2,111,321 for the Board of Education’s Local Share of Teacher Pension now included in the MOE calculation
    • Increased by $735,690 for health insurance and social security

The total FY2017 Worcester County Education funding per student based on the estimated student population of 6,660 equates to $16,843 per student, an increase of $360 per student over the current year budget. The following calculation does not include Restricted Program funds of $12,802,419 from State and Federal agencies.

County Funding - $81,650,139

State & Other - $19,759,725          $112,175,314 or $16,843 per student

School Debt - $10,765,450