Council Delays Budget Adoption

SALISBURY – Citing the need for further review, officials in Wicomico County agreed this week to extend the date for adopting the annual budget and fiscal years 2021-2025 Capital Improvement Program.

On Tuesday, the Wicomico County Council approved two resolutions extending the date for adopting the annual budget and Capital Improvement Program (CIP) from June 1 to June 15.

According to the county’s charter, the council can change any adoption dates provided that a resolution states the reason for the change and that the resolution is effective only during the fiscal year in which it is adopted.

Citing the need for additional time and further review of County Executive Bob Culver’s proposed budget, the council this week voted unanimously to extend the date for adoption of the annual budget and appropriation bill to June 15.

In the coming weeks, the council is expected to make cuts and adjustments to the proposed budget as a result of the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s proposed budget is currently set at $153,250,029.

“I don’t think there’s any question the fiscal and economic environment in the country, in the state, in the county is going to be – for lack of a better word – fluid,” Director of Administration Wayne Strausburg told the council earlier this month. “I think we are going to get some surprises along the way. What I would suggest is any reductions you anticipate or would like to make in departmental budgets, I would encourage you to send those cuts to contingency … so that as issues arise during the upcoming fiscal year we have an available bank account if you will that we can go to to fund things that are necessary.”

The council this week also voted unanimously to extend the date for adopting the CIP for fiscal years 2021-2025 to June 15.

On Jan. 7, the council passed a resolution extending the adoption date for the CIP to June 1. However, the council determined another extension was necessary after a revised CIP was submitted on April 21.

The legislative body’s decision to postpone the adoption of the CIP comes months after several parents, educators and community leaders called on county officials to restore capital funding for an extensive renovation and addition project at Mardela Middle and High School.

The project was included in Culver’s CIP presentation last December, but was eliminated earlier this year to the surprise of residents and school system officials.

This will be the second year in a row funding for the Mardela project has been removed from the CIP.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.