The Simple Truth. The Simple Math. The County Budget.

Dear Friends,

I’ve kept my word to you.

I’ve been very consistent and transparent about not raising taxes, not engaging in deficit spending, and not recklessly expanding the tax base by allowing unchecked development. Those goals are aligned with what Harford County residents have long advocated, and the reasons why you elected me as County Executive.

For greater transparency, I’ve clearly established the size of the financial pie to be allocated across the various Harford County departments in fiscal 2024.

Despite my efforts to keep taxes low and prevent reckless government overspending beyond our means, some of my colleagues in County government continue to ask that I either a) find more money to spend, b) reallocate funds from other departments to pay for their own favored initiatives, or c) budget based on overly optimistic assumptions about future revenue based on cherry-picked economic forecasts.

It’s easy, perhaps almost understandable, for them to take such a position when leading one county agency or department that provides specific services, with no accountability for revenue generation or balancing a county-wide budget. Unfortunately, in the last year before I took office, the prior County administration drastically increased spending and cut taxes, which created a new lower baseline for tax revenues but raised the bar in terms of setting a “new normal” for government spending. However, without the COVID grants and other temporary federal and state funding no longer available, the exaggerated FY23 spending level is not sustainable for the coming year.

This is a simple math problem. It’s not political, it’s not partisan, it’s not favoritism, it’s not retribution. It’s math.

Much of the invective we’ve recently seen in the press and social media is due to the refusal of some of my colleagues to accept that reality. All the accusations and finger-pointing aren’t going to change the math.

It diminishes all of us when we resort to public recrimination, innuendo, and grandstanding in hopes of squeezing the County residents for more money, rather than accepting the realities of our financial picture and working responsibly as a team to determine where our funds are best allocated in FY24, and where we can afford to wait.

We have funds that are appropriated to meet our “needs”, as well as many of our “wants”. The problem we are running into is that some of our county leaders are portraying a number of costly projects and new expenditures as “needs” when, by any objective analysis, they would be considered “wants”. Wanting something badly doesn’t make it a “need”. For example, a public official might claim a “want” to build a new facility right away, but perhaps the existing facility is sufficient for one more year. We have to be reasonable.

My door continues to be open. I remain committed to working in good faith with all the County government leaders towards a workable budget, where all legitimate “needs” are met and the most pressing “wants” are correctly prioritized based on public benefit and not on political pressure.

Please share this with your friends and family, to ensure that Harford County residents understand the budget. Click here to learn how to contact your Council member to urge a YES vote on the budget.

Looking forward to working together to be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars,