Wicomico Council Approves Budget

SALISBURY, MD – By a 5-2 vote, the Wicomico County Council approved the FY 2013 operating budget.  Council president Joe Holloway and councilwoman Sheree Sample-Hughes were the two dissenting votes.

As part of adopting the FY 2013 budget, council also increased the county’s real property tax rate 9.28% to $0.8404.  The personal property tax rate, which businesses pay on equipment, fixtures and inventory was increased to $2.101.  The tax hikes passed by a 6-1 vote, with Joe Holloway being the only dissenting vote.  Councilwoman Gail Bartkovich blamed recent action by the state legislature for forcing the council to adopt a property tax rate hike of this size.  Sample-Hughes argued that Annapolis’ action was necessitated by council’s previous refusal to raise taxes to pay for needed education and infrastructure expenditures.

While Holloway and Sample-Hughes seldom agree, both cited the revenue estimates provided by County Executive Rick Pollitt as their primary reason for voting against the budget.  Both questioned the accuracy of Pollitt’s revenue projections given the “finding” of additional income tax revenue to pay for the county’s share of the teacher pension shift and the approximately $600,000 in new spending the council adopted last Wednesday.  Sources within Pollitt’s administration indicate that council was not given an accurate revenue projection for FY 2013 and that other revenues were available but the amounts hidden from council and the public.  During public comment Pollitt argued that one reason the county had successfully weathered the recent economic downturn was by conservatively projecting revenues.

The council members supporting the budget cited restoring county furloughs and further increasing the wages of county employees as a motivating factor in their support.  Councilman Bob Culver noted that the county’s employee’s had “given up a lot” during the last three years.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    You simply cannot write a news article about Pollitt that doesn’t include some kind of conspiracy theory. You make some significant charges that he “hid revenue from the council and the public.” I think you should have something more concrete than anonymous sources before printing such dribble. As usual, your bias shows and thus your entire article (if it’s supposed to be news) is called into question.

    • G. A. Harrison says:

      Sorry Junior. Recordation tax projections were deliberately under-reported. Ditto for income tax. The tax hike in the special session did not change the state’s projection of Wicomico’s income tax revenues. Yet, Pollitt found approximately $1.25 million in income tax revenue when he needed to offset the teacher pension shift and then give council some money to play with.

      You may not like anonymous sources. I don’t either. The problem is, you can’t expect these folks to give up their jobs just for doing the right thing.

      Want to get Anonymously pissed off again? Check out this piece.

      • Anonymous says:

        First of all, don’t call me junior. I’m old enough to be your mother. Second, conservative reporting, deliberately under reporting – it’s all semantics and you can apply whatever spin you choose. My point is that you always choose to look for dishonest intent, rather than an equally plausible explanation of a difference of political opinion. And I’m not anonymously p’d off (my mother taught me not to use such language)about your next article. I find it much less offensive than your last several. I don’t agree with your assessment, but at least you aren’t pushing your fearmongering conspiracies.

        • G. A. Harrison says:

          Again, what “fearmongering conspiracies”? There is no question that revenues were deliberately under-reported. You may disagree as to the motive behind doing so. You would have had a valid point had the Pollitt administration not turned right around and added revenues when he needed to. Rick’s “conservative approach” went right out the window as soon as it suited.

          You can’t have it both ways.

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