Advertisement

mail editorial - 3/12/02

March 12, 2002

The Washington County Commissioners will give the School Board about $1.4 million of the $5.78 million increase it's asking for this year. The county board may up the ante by a few thousand dollars toward the end of the process, but is unlikely to go for the full requested amount, for several reasons.

The first is that in 2000, the commissioners increased both property and income taxes, in part to raise money to match Gov. Paris Glendening's offer to kick in more money for teacher raises. Absent a large natural disaster, the commissioners will not raises taxes in an election year.

Nor will the county draw down its surplus, which was estimated to be $10 million - about 8 percent of the county's annual budget - in late December. At the recent "State of the County" breakfast, Commissioners' President Greg Snook said that the New York bond rating houses, which essentially decide how much the county must pay to borrow money, are pleased that the surplus is fully funded.

Advertisement

The county needs a healthy surplus not only for that reason, but because with the Maryland General Assembly, still in session and digging into every corner of the budget for dollars, may decide to cut aid to county governments, or transfer funding requirements for some programs to the locals.

Then there's the question of how well the school system is using the money it has now. Commissioner Bill Wivell has been urging the system to consider school consolidation to save money, but it hasn't happened yet. And the school system's newly appointed Management Review Team has just gotten started on its efforts top find more efficient ways of running the system.

If pressed, the commissioners will point to the economy and to the fact that new team hasn't had much to look at efficiencies, or to do things like reviving the county's School Foundation, reactivated by the current board but which hasn't yet had much of a public presence. The School Board can ask, but major increases are unlikely to come this year.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|