BULLETIN: Cecil County Council Adopts Intact McCarthy Budget, Rejects Gregory Hits on Emergency Services, Library

May 19, 2020


The Cecil County Council Tuesday night adopted the Fiscal 2021 budget proposed by County Executive Alan McCarthy after a lengthy afternoon worksession at which Council members rejected multiple spending cuts proposed by Councilor Jackie Gregory (R-5), including payments for first responders’ and correctional officers’ overtime work.

The one cut in the operating budget endorsed at the afternoon worksession – eliminating a $30,000 position for an administrative aide at the county’s animal shelter—was reversed on a 3-2 vote at the evening session after David Trolio, director of the Department of Community Services which oversees the animal operations, outlined the need for the position—the only new staff hiring in the entire county budget proposal. Gregory and Councilor Bill Coutz (R-2) voted to cut the position while Council President Bob Meffley (R-1) and Councilors Al Miller and George Patchell voted to retain the position in the budget.

On the vote to formally adopt the operating budget, Gregory and Coutz voted no while Meffley, Miller and Patchell voted for the budget. Coutz did not offer any spending cut proposals of his own but noted he had worked with Gregory on some of her amendments proposed at the worksession.

Gregory also voted no on the capital improvement budget, while the others voted for it. The capital budget covers long term construction projects and is financed by long term bonds and grants and does not affect the property tax rate.

On the vote to formally set the property tax rate—which will remain frozen at the same level it has been set for the past three years—Gregory and Coutz again voted no while the others voted yes.

Gregory is running for re-election to her Council seat in the June 2 Republican primary while Coutz is running against McCarthy, and two other candidates, for county executive in the GOP primary.

During the worksession, county budget aides announced that construction costs on planned parking spaces and footpaths at the Calvert Regional Park had come in $1 million under budget. Gregory wanted to shelve the entire capital budget allocation for the ongoing work at the park but other councilors noted that area residents complained vociferously about visitors parking on nearby residential streets while attending sporting events at the facility and have clamored for expansion of on site car parking. So the council majority insisted on keeping the parking and pathways leading to area schools whose athletes use the facility.

In addition, budget aides pointed out that substantial federal grants supporting the project would be lost and the good-deal construction bid would expire on July 1 if the contract was cancelled. So the Council accepted the $1 million cost savings and agreed to proceed with the remaing $1.9 million project.

In recent days, as the economic uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic grows, McCarthy had advised Council members that he was planning to put on hold several construction projects, such as a turf field at Rising Sun High School as well as aid for other programs, such as expansion of broadband services and county land use mapping services that were to be paid for by casino impact aid, not taxpayer funds. Since the Hollywood Casino was ordered closed due to the pandemic and no one knows when it will reopen, the flow of impact aid is up in the air.

So the council incorporated those program delays into the budget, with the result that the executive would have to come back to the Council to reinstate the projects if and when funds become available.

CECIL TIMES will have an upcoming full report on the day’s budget deliberations and the worksession. You can read a CECIL TIMES bulletin on Gregory’s amendment proposals, posted Tuesday morning, here:


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