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October 21, 2019

How Taxpayers’ Money Is Spent

Jennifer Baker

Most individual households operate on strictly watched budgets. Each dollar is accounted for, and its usage planned. Few residents, though, know the basics of our county budget as to how hard earned tax dollars are destined to be used.


In the 2020 adopted budget, Frederick County will receive $637.7 million in revenue.


Most revenue collected is received through property taxes and local income tax. Other sources of revenue include licenses and permits, federal and state grants and service charges.


In 2020, the county anticipates receiving a 5.63% increase over the funds received in Fiscal 2019, which ended June 30.


The county has many expenses each year, but few residents are aware of how the revenue collected each year is allocated.


Are schools getting enough funding?


What does the Sheriff’s Department receive budget wise each year?


Does fire and rescue services receive adequate budgeting to replace gear, increase efficiency and provide for staffing?


The 2020 budget shows the largest expense is public education at $326.5 million. This means that 51.1% of all the revenue collected in Frederick County is allocated to public education.


The entire balance of county government and departments receive only 49% of the entire county budget. This includes public safety, public water, transportation and all other county departments.


Public safety receives the second largest allotment of funding at $125.3 million, or 19.6%. Public safety would include both the Sheriff’s Department and Fire & Rescue.


All other county departments will receive only $99.3 million, or 14.8% of the budget.


Fourth in line for county funding is debt service at $43.7 million or 6.5% of the county budget.


What is debt service? This is the cost for servicing all the county bonds sold to help cover the county needs each year, mostly capital projects.


Selling bonds allows the county to fund additional expenses without increasing taxes. The more bonds sold, the more debt to service them. Although not a tax increase, it would be an ever-increasing expense requiring that more tax dollars would be needed to fund this if the economy has a downturn.


While our budget is county drive, it is important to note that the state also can weigh in at any time with increased budgetary requirements thus increasing the burden on county taxpayers at the whim of the State of Maryland.


It is important that taxpayers know how our tax dollars are spent each year.


Without a conservative approach to county budgeting, with attention to detail on how efficiently each department is using the money budgeted, taxpayers will be left holding the bag at the end of a very large and expensive meal eaten by county bureaucrats.


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