Board of County Commissioners Adopts Resolution on Zoning Ordinance Amendment Process
The Calvert County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) adopted a resolution at its June 14 meeting that streamlines procedures for amending the Calvert County Zoning Ordinance and fosters openness and accountability in the zoning ordinance amendment process.
The resolution clarifies the roles of the BOCC and the Calvert County Planning Commission regarding zoning ordinance amendments. It also sets a timeline for Planning Commission action to ensure timely public input. The policy states that, once the BOCC refers proposed amendments to the Planning Commission, the commission has up to 180 days to make a recommendation to the BOCC. If the Planning Commission makes no recommendation within that time, the BOCC may vote to proceed with its public hearing, deliberation and decision regarding the proposed amendments without the Planning Commission’s recommendation, except where State law requires the Planning Commission’s recommendation to move forward. Exempted from this policy are certain amendments for which Planning Commission recommendation is required by state law.
“In deliberations over zoning ordinance amendments related to the Prince Frederick Town Center, we have experienced what the commissioners believe are undue delays and a lack of openness,” said BOCC President Evan Slaughenhoupt Jr. “As a response, this resolution clearly delineates the roles of the Board of County Commissioners and the Planning Commission. It also establishes a policy to ensure a balanced approach to zoning amendments while allowing for appropriate public input in reasonable time frame.”
The policy further states that failure of the Planning Commission to meet the time objectives is grounds for removal of Planning Commission members by the BOCC.
“This is a strong statement,” acknowledged Commissioner Slaughenhoupt, “but we believe it is merited as part of our effort to engender accountability in local government.”
Calvert County Board of County Commissioners Approves FY 2017 Budget
The Calvert County, Maryland, Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) yesterday approved a $246.8 million balanced budget by a vote of three to two. The budget includes increases to real property and local income tax rates to take effect July 1, 2016 and Jan. 1, 2017, respectively, as well as a resolution to annually reevaluate the need for the tax increase.
The Calvert County income tax rate will be raised from 2.8 percent to 3 percent. This would mark the first income tax rate increase in 13 years or since Jan. 2004. The new 3 percent rate would place Calvert County near the state average and in line regionally with Charles and St. Mary’s counties.
The property tax increase takes the rate from $.892 to $.952 per one hundred dollars of assessed value. Real property taxes have not been raised in Calvert County since 1987 or 29 years. Under the new rate, Calvert County’s real property taxes would be the 9th lowest among Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore City.
The new tax rates will generate approximately $8.6 million and close a significant and ongoing financial deficit created after a prolonged national economic downturn. The county prepared for the downturn and continued to budget conservatively by cutting operating budgets for several years, postponing needed purchases and holding the line on hiring new employees through a soft hiring freeze.
The approved FY 2017 budget allows county staff to avoid using the county’s fund balance as the sole method to address the ongoing deficit and allows for increased spending in areas either not funded, or under-funded in recent years. Those areas include road maintenance, school improvements, fire and emergency medical services apparatus and supplies, and county employee salary steps.
“Not one of the county commissioners wanted to raise taxes,” said Calvert County Board President Evan Slaughenhoupt. “We have spent the last year analyzing and examining the operational efficiency of the county’s expenditures and services, and we’ve done so in public forums and via our county website. Based on thorough examination, we understand that in order to maintain our exceptional bond rating, our exceptional level of services and our exceptional workforce, we had no other choice. Today’s vote was necessary for the sustainability of Calvert County Government’s services to the citizens today, and for many many years to come.”
The adopted FY 2017 General Fund budget is approximately $7.9 million more than the FY 2016 General Fund budget. This is due to the following changes:
• $2.0 million to restore the annual paving budget
• $1.5 million more for vehicles and equipment
• $1.2 million on a salary increase for employees and other staffing changes
• $2.5 million more in pensions and insurance, but $1.2 million less for other post-employment benefit trust contributions
• $1.0 million more in snow removal and contingency funds
• $0.9 million in other operating increases
The six-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) is reviewed annually in light of the County’s financial forecast and the cost of commodities, in addition to requests from citizens. The Education component, primarily Northern High School ($15.9 million) and Public Safety ($5.9 million) categories of Fiscal Year 2017 CIP budget make up the majority of the $32.7 million in planned capital improvement expenses for FY 2017. The remaining details of the CIP are presented in the budget.
Residents are encouraged to review the approved budget online.
Review the approved FY 2017 budget at http://www.co.cal.md.us/index.aspx?NID=2049