Wicomico Council Approves $173M Spending Plan

SALISBURY – County leaders this week voted to adopt a $173 million budget for the coming fiscal year.

On Tuesday, the Wicomico County Council voted unanimously to approve a $173 million spending plan for fiscal year 2023 with several amendments.

Among the proposed amendments were changes in pay grades for two positions and $20,000 salary increases for the positions of purchasing agent, public works deputy director, corrections deputy director, and recreation, parks and tourism director.

Councilmen Bill McCain, Josh Hastings and Ernie Davis, however, said they disagreed with the proposed salaries, as they did not follow the recommendations of a salary study completed by the consultant Bolton USA.

“I disagree with this,” McCain said. “This is a totally arbitrary number not based on any kind of data whatsoever and doesn’t agree with the study done by Bolton.”

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With no further discussion, the council voted 4-3, with McCain, Hastings and Davis opposed, to approve the amendments.

“Those salaries were a decrease from what the recommendations were,” Councilman Joe Holloway said. “They were much higher.”

Other amendments passed this week included a $30,000 reduction in salaries and benefits within the departments of public works, roads, corrections and purchasing.

The council also voted to eliminate a $500,000 line item – funded by the federal American Rescue Plan Act – to implement a sewer assistance grant program and to reduce the Wicomico County Board of Education operating expenses by $1 million and move those funds to contingency.

“By moving it out of board of education, it does not become our maintenance of effort,” said Finance Director Pam Oland, “but it does allow us the flexibility to either reduce the amount we borrow, or it allows us to purchase items for the board of education and donate them to the board of education.”

After further discussion and votes to approve additional changes, the council voted unanimously to adopt the annual budget as amended.

The council this week also voted to adopt a new classification and pay plan, which would change the grades and titles of county positions, as well as a property tax rate of $0.9070 per $100 of assessed valuation.

In April, Acting County Executive John Psota presented the county council with a proposed budget of $173 million, which represented a 7.6% increase over the current year’s spending plan.

With its adoption this week, the fiscal year 2023 budget will take effect on July 1.

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.