Garrett County Government Director of Finance, Scott Weeks, reported that the county has been monitoring the probable impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on the county budget.
Weeks currently estimates approximately $5 million as the projected reduction in revenue through the next six months. The biggest unanswered questions are just how long will the Governor’s Orders last and how quickly can our local industries return to normal levels of business.
Weeks is estimating losses for income tax, accommodations tax, admission and amusement tax, recordation tax, transfer tax, and investment income.
Weeks has been involved in regular meetings with the Maryland Association of Counties and the State Director for the Bureau of Revenue Estimates, Andrew Schaufele. The groups have been attempting to pin down a percentage figure to gauge the impact of the pandemic on income tax which is the County’s second largest revenue stream.
While revenue projections are down, the County is positioned well and has a plan in place.
“I believe we will be able to weather this storm.” Weeks said.
The budget gap has been closed by reducing some services such as paving and deferring some capital projects and capital expenditures. Also, the Government has put a hold on hiring.
The 2020 Fiscal Year ends June 30, 2020, with a projected $2.7 million reduction in revenue. Also, using best-estimates, the county will see reduction in projected revenue of $2.2 million for the 2021 Fiscal Year operating from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.
“This is a global situation with so much uncertainty. Right now, I think we are going to be able to make due by shuffling a few things around,” said Board of Garrett County Commissioners Chairman Paul Edwards. “Also, my fellow Commissioners agree, it’s raining now. We may have to tap into the reserves we have managed for just such an event with large-scale impacts.”
In addition, it is important to note that both state and federal funding has been made available to cover expenses specific to COVID-19. The county has applied for and has secured funding through multiple programs.