Budget Not Expected To Contain Tax Increases

County Executive says he hopes to keep income and property taxes level but could use one-time money from surplus accounts.

Kevin Kamenetz's second budget as county executive will likely contain additional spending cuts or use of surplus money but tax increases appear to be off the table.

Kamenetz, speaking to Patch Monday night, said the county budget will take into account up to $20 million in cuts contained in the so-called doomsday budget passed by the General Assembly that same night.

Keith Dorsey, the county budget director, told the County Council Tuesday that the county will continue to plan for the possibility that teacher pension costs could be shifted to the county from the state later this year.

Kamenetz is expected to deliver his budget to the Baltimore County Council Thursday at 10 a.m. That operating budget is expected to come in at no more than $1.65 billion.

"We're going to have a balanced budget and absorb these additional (cuts)" said Kamenetz, adding that he hopes to avoid increasing the county property and income tax rates.

"This is my 18th year now in county government and we haven't raised the property tax rate or the income tax rate at all in those 18 years and it's obviously a streak I want to continue," Kamenetz said. "A part of budget management and pinching pennies so to speak is preparing for the eventuality that is occurring right now."

That leaves additional budget cuts or one-time payments from unallocated surplus accounts.

"It could be both but obviously the reason we have held on to a fairly large pot of unappropriated surplus is to use during these difficult times," said Kamenetz. "To the extent we have to, that's what we're going to do."

The Spending Affordability Committee earlier this year approved a plan that limits the —a 3 percent increase over the current budget.

Last year, that contained an increase equal to about half of what the Spending Affordability Committee recommended.

The county auditor's office earlier this year projected a $94 million difference between revenues and county spending if the budget proposed by Kamenetz reaches the limit recommended by the committee.

Part of that gap is related to a state-wide trend of declining property taxes as assessments continue to drop.

The county has not increased its property or piggyback income tax rates in more than two decades.

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JDStuts April 11, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Guess that leaves his self voted second retirement safe.
johnny towson April 11, 2012 at 06:18 PM
This is only half of an answer to the County's Budget woes. I support the County Executive resisting his temptation to raise taxes, but equally criticize his silence on how he plans to energize the economy of the County. The surplus funds must be replaced and cannot sustain the County in perpetuity. Any vision, innovation or plan for how to lead the County, its businesses and its communities has yet to be articulated or described. He ran on the slogan of being the "ideas county of the region" and we have yet to see anything innovative, new or improved. I do not count renaming positions, changing measurement metrics or increased recycling weights as distinctions worthy of executive leadership for a County of 800,000 people.
johnny towson April 11, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Good point. Ouch.


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