County To Hold Virtual Hearing On Proposed Budget; Speakers Required To Register Online In Advance Before May 5

SNOW HILL –   Citizens will have a chance to provide input on Worcester County’s proposed budget during an online public hearing next week.

On Tuesday, May 5, the Worcester County Commissioners will host a public hearing on the requested fiscal year 2021 operating budget. The hearing will be live-streamed at 7 p.m.

“I hope people partake Tuesday,” said Commissioner Joe Mitrecic, president of the board. “This is the most important thing the county commissioners do as a whole.”

In March, the commissioners advised staff to revise the $221.3 million proposed budget as it became clear that the COVID-19 outbreak would have a financial impact on the county. Revenues in the proposed fiscal year 2021 budget were revised from $209,931,786 to $205,694,286. More than $15 million in spending cuts were made to bring proposed expenditures down to $205,966,790.

Mitrecic said the cuts would buffer against the potential financial impact of the ongoing health crisis.

“The revised budget includes no property tax increase at all,” he said. “We have made necessary, albeit some painful, cuts based on a better understanding of potential impacts to county revenues. But the revised budget still reflects FY21 expenditures that are based on needs, not numbers.”

Harold Higgins, the county’s chief administrative officer, said staff made an aggressive round of cuts knowing that COVID-19 would have an impact on finances.

“We recognized early on that the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have a significant impact on county revenues, so we adjusted spending accordingly,” he said. “Because many of the capital expenditures that were cut from the FY21 budget are needs-based items held over from prior-year budgets, we will continue to monitor and evaluate revenues and may reconsider whether to reinstitute certain projects later this year based on the availability of surplus funds from the current budget.”

The public is invited to comment on any aspect of the proposed budget, which is available on the county’s website, at Tuesday’s public hearing. Mitrecic acknowledged that the teleconference might not be ideal but said that it would give people the chance to voice their concerns regarding the budget.

“It’s a new situation,” he said. “We have to move forward in the best way that we can.”

Those planning to speak  must register in advance at Speakers will receive an invitation via email to join the video/audio conference and will be enabled to speak during the hearing by the meeting chair. Oral comments will be limited to two minutes to assure that all participants have an opportunity to speak. Written comments may be sent by email to [email protected] or by hardcopy to the County Commissioners Office, Worcester County Government Center, One West Market Street, Room 1103, Snow Hill, Md. 21863. Written comments must be received on or before 4 p.m. Monday, May 4, to be read into the record at the public hearing.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.