Culver budget proposal includes county pay hike

While not yet releasing details of his fiscal 2017 spending plan for Wicomico, County Executive Bob Culver said this week that he will propose a 3 percent pay increase for county employees and finance Maintenance of Effort requirements for public schools.

Culver said his budget proposal will be fully balanced and there will be no tax increases proposed.

“We have found ways to cut some operational expenses and will use that,” Culver said.

Tonight at 6 p.m. at the Wicomico County Youth & Civic Center, Culver will host a public hearing on the spending plan.

Public input from the hearing will be considered for inclusion in Culver’s final budget, which goes to the County Council on Tuesday.

“The great news is there is will not be a tax increase  this year,” Culver said. “The budget is very conservatively done, but still meeting the needs of the citizens. There are not any cuts to citizens services.”

Culver said his spending plan includes needed capital improvement for public safety.

“The Sheriff’s Office has asked for 15 vehicles,” he said. “We have a plan for how to improve our ‘rolling stock’ throughout departments.”

Culver said that weak economic times forced the previous administration to forgo spending, and many of those needs have to be met. “We have to make up for some of the losses to discretionary spending over the years,” he said.

Culver wasn’t specific on the matter of schools funding, but said there is an increase in the county’s contribution for MOU.

The budget also funds the first year of Culver’s proposal to pay tuition to county high schoolers who attend Wor-Wic Community College. That is budgeted at $250,000.

Culver said there will be increased funding for the MAC Center for the elderly and to the Humane Society of Wicomico County.  A budget item to address the opioid  addiction problem in the county has also been included.

In tonight’s hearing, the public is encouraged to present their comments and questions. Final decisions will be based on urgency of need and available funding sources.

Culver said he has budgeted $250,000 in repairs for the Wicomico County Courthouse. He said engineering concerns have been raised about the building’s clock tower, and whether that part of the structure could withstand hurricane-force winds.

He also said years of roof leakage have taken a toll on sub-roofing.

Last year’s fiscal 2016 budget came in at $129 million. The county’s property tax rate is $0.9516 per $100 of assessed property value.


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