Commissioners approve 2-cent tax cut as part of budget plan

Frazier sought deeper reduction, votes against plan

May 26, 2011

WESTMINSTER — The Board of Carroll County Board of Commissioners approved a 2-cent reduction in the countywide property tax rate May 24 as part of its approval of a $350.3 million operating budget for the next fiscal year and a $64.4 million capital construction budget.

The 2-cent decrease will change the rate from $1.048 to $1.028 per every $100 of assessed value.

The commissioners said the budget package sets in motion a plan for an overall 10 percent reduction in the county's bond debt by FY 2117, as well as a restriction in growth of the operating budget and a reduction in planned capital spending from last year.

The budget package was approved 4-1, with commissioner Robin Frazier, who represents the 1st District in Manchester, Silver Run and Taneytown, opposing the plan.

Frazier had sought a larger reduction in the tax rate — she lobbied for a 5-cent reduction.

Commissioner Doug Howard, who represents Sykesville and Eldersburg in the 5th District, and who serves as president of the board, said he just didn't feel there was enough room in the budget for a deeper tax reduction while providing for services and projects that are needed now.

"I do think there's tax relief in our future; more tax relief," said Howard. "I do think that's an opportunity we have."

Budget officials said the funding for education in the budget is essentially flat compared to last year — yet still represents a level of funding nearly $1 million above the minimum levels required by the state for "maintenance of effort" — which reflects maintaining education services at the current levels.

County budget officials said highlights of the plan include:

• Budget moves to shift from the State Police Resident Trooper Program to the Sheriff's Office as the county's primary law enforcement.

• Sustained funding to all eight municipalities in the county.

• Increased funding to the Volunteer Emergency Services Association to address pressure on emergency medical services.

• And funding of a replacement for Mount Airy Middle School.

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