Commissioners kick off series of budget meetings

February 14, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

The Washington County Commissioners on Thursday kicked off the months-long series of meetings on the annual general fund budget, starting about two weeks earlier than usual because three of the five commissioners are going through the process for the first time.

The county adjusted the budget process to give new commissioners John C. Munson, Doris J. Nipps and James F. Kercheval more opportunities and time to ask questions at meetings and workshops, County Administrator Rodney Shoop said.

Department and agency heads were told to be prepared for more questions than usual, Shoop said.

Munson, Nipps and Kercheval were elected in November, while Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook and Commissioner William J. Wivell were re-elected.


At Thursday's meeting, county agency heads explained their proposed budget to the commissioners, some going into more detail than in past years about how their agencies operate and are funded.

Having the slower pace will help the commissioners make more informed decisions when balancing the budget, Kercheval and Nipps said after the meeting.

It is too soon to estimate how much the county expects in revenues and expenses for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, Shoop said. Those projections should be available within the next month, he said.

The county faces state budget cuts for the upcoming budget year, which will make balancing the budget more difficult than usual.

If the Maryland General Assembly agrees, the county might boost revenue with excise and transfer taxes, with the money going for public safety and education, agricultural land preservation and debt reduction.

Department and agency heads have been told it will be a difficult year financially and to keep that in mind when developing and presenting their budgets, Shoop said.

Shoop said he told department and agency heads that asking for no budget increase is good and asking for a budget reduction next fiscal year is even better.

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