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From the Desk of
County Councilman Kirby Delauter

(5/2015) Budget season is here and we received the County Executive's proposed FY 2016 budget last week. She proposes $10 million in new spending which includes $4.2 Million " above" maintenance of effort for county public schools. The Executive's budget adds 20 new full time positions, which adds recurring costs to an already strained fiscal picture. The two biggest revenue producers are, the property tax and the income tax are up $19 Million collectively. This is based on existing tax rates of $1.06 (property) and $2.96 (income). Property assessments are up 3.30%, which generates $8.8 million in additional revenues just in the property tax alone. In my opinion, we should reduce the tax rate to reflect the constant yield to $1.04 per $100 of assessed value. Leaving it at $1.06 is nothing more than a hidden tax increase. If we do not hold the constant yield tax rate, you will see an $8.8 Million tax increase. I don't see the executive in the press talking about this, I wonder why?

There are many issues I have with this budget beginning with one time transfer of $2 Million to cover the assumption of sale of County buildings. Why would we need to transfer $2 Million for this? The buildings are still for sale and until they're sold, I don't think it costs $2 Million to let them sit empty. Another caveat to this is that for example, 520 N Market street, a county building that as a county building, generates $0 tax revenue. Once sold to the private sector, it would generate $36,000 annually of tax revenue just in property tax. It makes no sense for the county to own any buildings, but it appears the County Exec is gearing up to hire more county employees and fill up these buildings that were for sale. Fiscally responsible or fiscally ridiculous? You make the call.

In the public works department, the infamous sewer camera truck is back in the budget. This is the same truck I nixed 3 years ago because the previous truck they had was 16 years old and had 20,000 miles on it. Also, it was not even workable for over two years. They have $400,000 budgeted for yes, a new one again. The Executive wants to add nine full time benefitted positions in highway operations so they can remove deer carcasses, trim trees, do weed control, and build headwalls. She wants to add two HVAC positions to maintain county buildings. This is a complete waste of taxpayer funds. She claims it a net $0 effect since we were paying contractors to do this work previously.

So again, let me make this very simple, if you had an issue with your HVAC or tree trimming or weed control at home, would you (a) hire a person, buy them a truck, pay the benefits (healthcare, vacation, sick days holidays, floating days, picnics, etc) or would you (b) call a contractor and have the issue taken care of through the private sector? I think you know the answer and it surely doesn't have a net effect of $0. Her fuzzy math says it does and if you believe that, please contact me I have some swamp land in Florida for sale.

The previous BoCC outsourced fleet services for maintenance etc., it worked great and saved the taxpayer a substantial amount of money. The Executive wants to hire a full time maintenance technician. Anyone ever see Jiffy Lube, or Quick Lube, the Lube Center, or your local garage that does maintenance on cars and trucks? Again, would you hire your own mechanic, or take your car to Jiffy Lube? You make the call.

As I close, let us not forget about the Lime Kiln rehabilitation at Fountain Rock Nature Park. $600,000 to do some masonry repairs to a prehistoric lime kiln that if you took a visitor there today, they would look at it and say, " that's nice". If we spend $600,000 on masonry repairs, that same visitor will look at it and say, " that's nice". This is not needed at this point in time. There is $173,000 allocated for an addition to the County Attorney's office, totally unnecessary as well as the $50,000 salary for the board of education liaison which is nothing more than a political appointed payback. That position is a duplication of effort and accomplishes nothing.

So there you have it in a nutshell. It's going to be interesting to say the least. We have a budget that meets maintenance of effort (the state mandated minimum increase) plus an added $4.2 Million above maintenance of effort funded as well. We have two Teachers on the Council that will vote on millions of dollars that will help their coworkers as well as themselves. I'm not saying they're bad people, but they are in a bad position. If they vote for these added Millions to the BoE, the taxpayers will scream foul, claim they're padding their own pockets. If they don't, it will be very hard walking the halls among your peers at FCPS to say the least. I don't envy them in that position; it's a no win for our two elected teachers.

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