Harford County Executive Approves $1.2 Billion Budget For Fiscal Year 2024


Harford County Executive Bob Cassilly signs the county budget for fiscal year 2024, joined by County Council President Patrick Vincenti (seated), Director of Administration Rob McCord, and Chief of Budget and Research Kim Spence.

HARFORD COUNTY - Harford County Executive Bob Cassilly approved his first budget on Wednesday after it was ratified by a majority of the County Council on Tuesday. The fiscal year 2024 budget maintains expenditure levels, addresses the county's requirements, and avoids tax hikes.

According to the County Executive's office, the approved budget totals $1,225,209,000, marking a modest increase of just 0.34% over FY 2023.

The executive's office attributes the slight uptick to an unforeseen but necessary county takeover of ambulance services prompted by the Harford Volunteer Fire & EMS Foundation.

The final budget curtails the county's structural deficit by 25% and incorporates additions to County Executive Cassilly's initial budget recommendation, such as $10 million for Harford County Public Schools instructional salaries, $750,000 for the Harford County Health Department, $150,000 for two victim rights advocates in the Harford County Sheriff's Office, upgrades to the Bel Air Library, expedited funding for the new Joppatowne Activity Center, and increased funding for both parks & recreation projects and nonprofits aiding vulnerable citizens.

The Harford County Board of Education, initially critical of the budget, collaborated with Cassilly in May to announce a joint plan to augment operational funding for schools in Fiscal Year 2024, a product of thorough discussions between the Harford County Public Schools (HCPS), the Cassilly administration, and the County Council.

The Board of Education has committed $15 million from its reserve funds to the operational budget for FY 2024. County Executive Cassilly has committed to providing an extra $10 million, bringing the total increase in funding for the Harford County Public Schools to $25 million for the coming year.

The school system will draw its share from excess funds from previous years, known as their "fund balance." Cassilly's contribution will emphasize enhancing teacher salaries and reducing class sizes, sourced from a 2.5% cut across all county departments from the current FY23 budget, in addition to other savings accumulated during his term.

The budget also allows for modest salary increases for all public employees: an average hike of 6.5% for sheriff's office deputies and a 3% rise plus a step increment for eligible teachers and school staff.

In his announcement of the budget, Cassilly provided the following statement:

"After my initial budget was presented in April, I was open to all willing to engage in meaningful discussions and identify mutual concessions," said County Executive Cassilly. "Through respectful negotiations and compromise, my inaugural budget as county executive fulfills our needs without tax increases reduces the structural deficit inherited from the previous administration, and sets Harford County on a promising trajectory for our future."

He also extended gratitude to his directors, budget chief Kim Spence, treasurer Robbie Sandlass, and their remarkable teams, and also thanked Council President Patrick Vincenti, Council Vice-President Tony "G" Giangiordano, and Council members Dion Guthrie, Aaron Penman, James Reilly, and Jessica Boyle-Tsottles for their support.

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