Worcester budget invests in infrastructure, public safety, schools and other essential services – Conduit Street

Worcester County Commissioners have approved an operating budget of nearly $227 million for fiscal year 2023 that prioritizes schools, public safety, infrastructure and other essential services – without increasing revenue premises or property rates.

The approved budget reflects an increase of $10.4 million (five percent) over the current year’s budget while reducing the requested expenditure of $229.6 million by $2.7 million. The fiscal year 2023 budget maintains the property tax rate of 84.5¢ per $100 of assessed value and the local county tax rate of 2.25%.

Projected general fund revenue
• Based on the property tax rate of $0.845, NET property taxes increased by $4,122,207.
o The Homestead credit limit remains unchanged at 3% and is estimated at $1,717,809
for county qualified primary resident owners effective July 1, 2022.
• Income tax revenues have increased by $8,000,000 and are estimated at $38,000,000 and remain the same at 2.25%. Revenues are based on market conditions and estimates for the current year. The transfer to municipalities is included for $2.6 million.
• Revenue from other local taxes increased by $330,000 for the following items: $30,000 increase in
Room tax administration and $300,000 room tax collection for unincorporated areas in
county, both estimates are based on current trends.
• State shared revenue increased by $103,288 due to estimated increase for highway users
• Licenses and permits increased by $70,855 overall. Significant changes include increases in
$10,000 for vending machine licenses, $15,000 for building permits and $52,455 for health
permit. A decrease of $26,000 is included for professional licenses which is a semester license
• Service charges decreased by $1,411,340 with a decrease of $1,500,000 in ICE accommodations
income as the most significant change. The increases include $20,000 in recreation costs, $12,100 in
recycling revenue and $22,760 in park fees.
• Interest on investments decreased by $100,000 based on current rates of return.
• Other income increased by $180,143 with a $150,000 increase in planned asset sales and a $28,258 increase in rental income.
• Federal Grants forecast a decrease of $11,727 due to lower Homeland Security Grants revenue estimates.
• State grants increased overall by $21,330. Increases include $200,000 in state park revenue,
$55,000 in waterway improvement grants, $16,895 in 911 grants and $23,387 in family
Support grant. Significant decreases include $327,500 in program open space grants and
$10,000 in conservation easement reimbursements.
• Transfers decreased by $897,189.
o Prior year surplus decreased by $283,296 and Casino/local impact grant funds decreased by $613,893.
Major Approved General Fund Expenditures County Departments and Agencies:
A summary of significant increases and decreases in approved expenditures includes the following:
• State’s Attorney’s Office increased by $969,958.
o Increase of $863,639 in salaries and includes six additional assistant prosecutors
and six paralegals.
o Increase of $135,489 in supplies and materials, including dues, licenses,
subscriptions, software maintenance and office furniture.
• Elections Office increased by $110,275 and includes Governor’s Early Voting, Primary
Election and general election.
o $41,211 increase in salaries, which includes salary increases by the State Board of
FY23 elections.
o Increase of $63,553 in supplies and materials mainly due to new poll books.
• Sheriff’s Office increased by $815,262.
o Increase of $606,854 in salaries and includes 2 new full-time support specialists and 3,964 additional hours for existing part-time positions.
o Increase of $623,384 in supplies and equipment for body cameras, software licenses and
software maintenance.
• The fire company grant is included for $2,520,000 based on the current funding of $250,000 to each fire company and the supplement of $20,000.
• Ambulance subsidies are included for $6,343,244, an increase of $247,612 and include
additional funding for 10 EMS companies to help with staffing.
• The Public Works Department increased by $203,678.
o Increase of $160,800 in maintenance and services due to the increase in consulting services
and fleet repairs.
• Public Works Maintenance Division increased by $142,268.
o Increase of $178,685 in salaries and includes a project manager position.
o Increase of $22,900 in maintenance and services for vehicle safety and warning lights.
• Public Works Roads Division increased by $712,877.
o Increase of $74,530 in supplies and materials for signage, a brine unit,
patching materials and pipes.
o Increase of $464,362 in capital goods for a tractor with long reach attachment, skid
steering, dump truck and 4×4 pickup truck with snow plow.
• Natural Resources increased by $102,235.
o Increase of $72,235 for gypsy moth control and $30,000 for beach maintenance.
• Taxes shared with cities increased by $301,800.
o Increased by $300,000 for transmission of income tax distribution to cities.
• Grants to cities increased by $334,776.
o Increase of $258,776 in city grants over the previous year.
o Increase of $76,000 for the city-restricted firefighting grant under the current formula.
• Insurance and benefits increased by $1,954,163.
o Increased by $1,268,121 for other post-employment benefits (AAPE) for a total of
$9,500,000. An additional OPEB is provided to the school board for the county total
OPEB funding of $12,368,146 in FY23.
o Increased by $290,036 for the pension plan based on state rates.
o Increase of $256,711 for Social Security contributions based on estimated payroll.
o Decrease of $84,125 for the workers’ compensation insurance plan.
o Increase of $197,427 for property and liability insurance due to an increase in premiums.
o Increase of $21,440 for life insurance.
• Salary accounts have been increased to include a 4% cost of living adjustment (COLA), increment and longevity allowance for county employees who are eligible.

Board of Education

The county’s allocation for the Board of Education (BOE) operating budget is $100,983,605, an increase of $3,981,384 over the current year’s enacted budget. The school construction debt is paid by the county on behalf of the BOE. It is not reflected in the BOE budget; however, it is included in the county’s operating budget. The BOE’s approved operating budget of $100,983,605 plus debt service of $12,455,856 totals $113,439,461 or 50% of the county’s total estimated revenue.

The school board asked for a salary increase for the employees and the bus contractor:

The Board of Education (BOE) budget includes the following salary adjustments for FY23:

• The BOE salary package reflects a payroll increase of $4,025,396, which includes one step, a longevity step for those eligible, a 4% COLA for teachers and a 4.5% COLA for support staff employees.

• The increase in the bus contract account in FY22 is $247,876 and reflects an increase in hourly rate from $22.58 to $25.00, increasing mileage from $1.60 to $1.62 and the PVA from $20,115 to $20,920.

• The beginning teacher’s salary would increase by 4.0%, from $47,795 to $49,707.

Total Worcester County Department of Education funding for FY23 per student, based on an estimated student population of 6,402.25, equates to $15,169.25 per student for $97,117,331 over the total funding shown below for estimated total enrollment of 6,803.

Michelle J. Kelley