Budget Presented With $11M Shortfall

SNOW HILL – County officials asked staff to begin eliminating an $11 million shortfall as the annual budget process begins.

As proposed, Worcester County’s fiscal year 2023 budget includes an $11 million deficit. In anticipation of next week’s budget work session, the commissioners voted unanimously to have staff begin making reductions in expenditures.

“I think department heads should have the opportunity to demonstrate how they would handle this,” Commissioner Chip Bertino said.

On Tuesday, Chief Administrative Officer Weston Young presented the Worcester County Commissioners with the coming year’s budget, which has to be approved by June 7. Budget work sessions are set for March 22 and March 29.

“Our general fund revenue estimate is approximately $218 million,” Young said. “The requested operating expenditures total approximately $229 million. The difference between the estimated revenues and requested expenditures of the county departments and associated agencies is $11 million.”

Bertino said that while it wasn’t what was typically done he wanted to see staff make cuts before the work sessions.

“I think it would be a more productive session, knowing that we have an $11 million shortfall that needs to be closed, for department heads, for all those that come before us, to discuss how they’re going to close that $11 million deficit and not talk to us about why we need to increase the budget to meet the expenses that have been allocated,” Bertino said.

Commissioner Jim Bunting agreed and said that staff had made cuts during some previous budget cycles.

“I think it’s a good idea,” he said.

The commissioners voted 7-0 to have department heads revisit their proposed budgets and submit possibilities for reductions.

Estimated revenues in the coming year’s budget total $218 million, an increase of 1% over the current year. Property tax revenues are set to increase by $4.1 million.

As far as expenditures, requests total $229 million, a 6% increase over the current year.

The Worcester County Board of Education has requested $101,188,605, an increase of $3.9 million over the current year.

School construction debt, which is paid by the county on behalf of the school system, is not reflected in that amount.

“The board’s operating and capital budget request is $101,188,605 plus debt of $12,725,856 which totals $113,914,461, or 52.2% of the county’s total estimated revenue,” a report from county staff reads.

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.