Cecil County Council Unanimously Approves FY24 Budget
Elkton, Maryland — This evening, the Cecil County Council voted unanimously to approve County Executive Danielle Hornberger’s proposed FY24 budget. The budget reduces taxes for residents and businesses for the third consecutive year and features a historic tax rebate for qualified homeowners. It also includes a significant investment in public safety and law enforcement, funding for new school construction and capital projects, and key investments to improve county roadways and combat drug crimes.
The budget, which includes $298.5 million for county operations and $75.4 million in capital funding, is designed to help maintain Cecil County’s AA+ bond rating.
“While the U.S. is experiencing great financial uncertainty and instability right now, Cecil County is well positioned to weather the projected fiscal challenges ahead,” said County Executive Danielle Hornberger. “We are continuing to strengthen our local economy by creating competitive-wage jobs across diverse industries, including 250 new jobs at the new Northrop Grumman defense technology manufacturing center and over 800 new jobs in our growing tourism sector.”
Among the key highlights of the FY24 budget is an unprecedented $20 million tax rebate for qualified residential property owners in Cecil County, which will be issued in the form of a credit on county real estate tax bills as of July 1, 2023.
“With inflation at a 40-year high, this tax rebate is needed now more than ever – especially for our seniors on a fixed income and our working families” said Council President Jackie Gregory. “Our commitment to fiscal responsibility and conservative budgeting practices has enabled us to return these tax dollars to the Cecil Countians who earned them.”
Under the County Executive’s plan, the homeowners of owner-occupied primary residences will receive a tax credit according to the following schedule:
The FY24 budget also reduces the real property tax rate from 1.0143 to 0.9924 per hundred dollars, which represents an approximate 2 cents per hundred dollar reduction and cuts the personal property (business) tax rate from 2.5358 to 2.4810 per hundred dollars, representing an approximate 5 cents per hundred dollar reduction. This is the third consecutive year in which county government has cut both the real property tax rate and personal property tax rate for businesses. The FY24 budget provides additional tax relief by cutting income taxes by 5 cents per 100 dollars earned (from a 2.8% tax rate to a 2.75% tax rate), marking two consecutive years of income tax cuts for Cecil County citizens.
The approved budget also strives to retain and attract highly-qualified and well-trained law enforcement and public safety professionals by funding significant pay increases for these vital employees. Sheriff’s deputies, correctional officers, paramedics, emergency services dispatchers, and assistant state’s attorneys will all receive a $10,000 salary increase, effective July 1, 2023, pending approval by the impacted labor unions. These increases are in addition to previously negotiated contract terms and represent the culmination of a year-long effort to ensure that compensation for Cecil’s public safety workforce remains regionally competitive.
“It’s my belief that this continued investment in our hardworking men and women in law enforcement will go a long way toward keeping our communities safe,” said County Executive Hornberger.
Additional budget highlights include:
- Increased public safety equipment and support: Funding for two new paramedic stations (Station #2 near Charlestown and Station #4 between Elkton and Fair Hill), more than $2 million for volunteer fire company equipment including ladder trucks and a new ambulance, and funding for a specialized drug crimes prosecution team for the State’s Attorney’s office.
- Infrastructure needs: Including funding for maintenance and repair of the county’s wastewater system and to expand the county’s broadband coverage for high-speed internet.
- School construction and capital projects: More than $2.6 million in funding for school-related capital improvements at Elkton High School, Rising Sun High School, Perryville High School, Rising Sun Elementary and Conowingo Elementary. Additionally, the budget provides nearly $11 million for school construction, including replacing two outdated schools to provide students and teachers with modern classrooms and updated equipment conducive to better learning.
- Education: The FY24 budget meets the State’s funding recommendation for Cecil County Public Schools ($88.5 million)
- Planning for the Future: The budget also includes $10 million for a “committed fund,” which will create an education lockbox. The funds in the lockbox can be used to stave off future tax increases associated with the Maryland General Assembly’s Blueprint mandate, which will require counties to collectively spend an additional $3.8 billion on public education over the next decade.