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School board to receive $95.5 million from county

May 05, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Teacher Denise Fry said she wished she had a box of gold stars for the Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday night.

Fry, one of 13 people who spoke Tuesday night at a public hearing on the proposed county budget, said the County Commissioners scored a 99 percent for nearly fully funding the Board of Education's financial request.

"This year's budget is truly refrigerator-mounting quality," Fry said.

None of those who spoke at the public hearing at Hagerstown Community College's Kepler Theater opposed the proposed $211.8 million budget for fiscal year 2005, which begins on July 1.

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About 100 people attended the hearing.

Under the proposed budget, the school board would receive $95.5 million from the county, which includes $78.8 million for its operating budget and $10 million in capital funding. The capital dollars go toward school construction.

The proposed $78.8 million allocation to the school board's operating budget would almost fully fund its request of $78.9 million and is about $4 million more than the $74.8 million the school system received for the current fiscal year.

The $10 million capital contribution is an increase of $4.1 million over the $5.9 the county gave the school board for the current fiscal year.

Archie Van Norden, president of the Washington County Association of Supervisors and Administrators, said he couldn't remember the commissioners ever giving the school board nearly everything it asked for.

With money also included in the county budget for Hagerstown Community College, the Maryland School for the Blind and the Washington County Free Library, education funding for operating and capital expenses takes up $104.9 million of the proposed county budget, County Administrator Rodney M. Shoop said.

HCC would receive $5.2 million, the entire amount it requested from the county for its operating budget. That is an increase of $295,606 over the current year. HCC also would receive $1.65 million in capital dollars, a $1 million increase over the current year.

The proposed $211.8 million county budget consists of a $147.9 million operating fund, a $30.1 million capital improvement fund and 13 smaller county funds.

The county's operating fund is a $9.2 million increase over the current year's operating fund of $138.7 million.

Most of the county's operating dollars come from property and local tax revenues. The county estimates it will receive $80.4 million in property tax revenue, an increase of $5.2 million over the current fiscal year, and $59.3 million in local tax revenue, an increase of $2.3 million over the current fiscal year.

Of the $59.3 million, $51.5 million is income tax revenue, $6.5 million is recordation tax revenue, $310,000 is admissions and amusement tax revenue, $368,000 is trailer tax revenue and $630,000 is hotel-motel tax revenue, according to the proposed budget.

The county also anticipates receiving $2.5 million in transfer tax revenue, $1.8 million in excise tax revenue and $4.7 million generating by the recently approved Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance fees for schools and roads.

Those fees are charged to developers to offset the cost of growth. Of the anticipated facilities ordinance revenue, $1.8 million would go toward school construction projects that increase school capacity and $2.9 million is slated for road improvements, Shoop said.

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