Wicomico’s $161M Budget Features Tax Rate Decrease

SALISBURY – A public hearing on Wicomico’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2022 highlighted this week’s county council meeting.

On Tuesday, the Wicomico County Council held a public hearing on Acting County Executive John Psota’s proposed operating and capital budgets for fiscal year 2022.

The spending plan – submitted to the legislative branch late last month – features a general fund budget of $161,144,944 and includes $14.1 million for the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, $18.5 million for the Wicomico County Department of Corrections and $58.2 million for the Wicomico County Board of Education.

“The primary focus of this budget is to identify and fund Wicomico County’s core service needs: public safety, public health, education and infrastructure,” Psota’s budget message reads. “Additionally, this budget was prepared with the recognition that all county stakeholders’ finances have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Officials noted the coming year’s budget would be funded by several revenue sources, the largest of which being local property tax revenue.

The budget proposes a decrease in the real property tax rate, 91 cents per $100 of assessed value. However, since the proposed property tax rate is higher than the constant yield rate – or the tax rate that would generate the same amount of revenue as the previous year – a public hearing will be held at the next council meeting on May 18 at 10 a.m.

In this week’s public hearing, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Donna Hanlin thanked council members for their continued support. She noted, however, that the county’s proposed contribution to the board of education could change in the coming weeks, as officials were still seeking the state’s guidance on maintenance of effort funding formulas.

“This is the highest of the possible funding scenarios,” she said. “It’s very likely that figure will be slightly less than that. As soon as we know, you’ll know.”

Hanlin also praised the school system’s teachers, classified employees and administrators for their efforts during this year’s budget process.

“Through negotiations, they agreed to only a step on the salary scale and no cost-of-living increase in the coming year,” she said. “It’s only through this successful collaboration and negligible increase in health care, and the hard work and dedication of budget managers to realign existing funds to meet priorities for the coming year, that we have been able to balance a maintenance of effort budget for FY22.”

The proposed spending plan for fiscal year 2022 includes a revenue increase of $7.89 million, or 5.15%, over last year’s budget. That includes $3.98 million in federal American Rescue Plan funding and $4 million in general fund prior year revenue.

Other notable expenditures include $12.5 million for solid waste, $11.7 million for roads and $6.3 million for Wor-Wic Community College.

The first of several budget work sessions begins on Friday.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

Alternative Text

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.