February 1st, 2019
by Bill De Freitas
Cecil County Executive McCarthy says: “No Tax Rise in New Budget; Will Seek Re-election in 2020”
The state of Cecil County is in great shape, according to Cecil County Executive Dr. Alan McCarthy, and he will seek a second term in office in 2020 to carry on his vision of economic development, job creation and educational improvements in the county. McCarthy, has said there would be no tax increases in his upcoming budget.
Delivering his third State of the County address on Monday morning, McCarthy says he wants to be around to help Cecil County stay on track and moving forward and to not loose the momentum he has gotten started.
Speaking about his first two years in office as the county’s second County Executive under Charter government, McCarthy said there has been a wide variety of new business development in the growth corridor in and near the Principio Business Park near Perryville. McCarthy talked about an expansion of 6 million square feet of commercial space in the county and the creation of 3,000 new jobs in his first two years in office.
He also spoke about the plan to locate a Great Wolf Lodge Hotel and Waterpark Resort near the Hollywood Casino in Perryville on the Chesapeake Overlook property. This project is expected to generate from 500 to 600 new jobs and an estimated $10 million payroll in wages and benefits when it opens sometime in 2022. The hotel will have 500 rooms and feature restaurants, shopping arcades and quite a few entertainment options, from water slides to rock climbing walls and a large conference center. The project is also expected to draw other businesses to the remainder of the “Chesapeake Overlook” property that is currently available for development.
When McCarthy took office, the county’s “financial situation was in very bad shape,” McCarthy said, with a $2.4 million “unassigned fund balance”, an emergency reserve fund used to balance the annual operating budget. The previous County Executive, Tari Moore, repeatedly used the reserve accounts, which dropped from $15 million when she took office to about $6 million when she left, using the fund to finance deficit spending by her administration in order to avoid politically unpopular tax increases to pay for her spending programs.
McCarthy went on to say, “Cecil County was headed for serious financial problems.” He decided to take the political heat in his first county budget to raise the property tax rate by 5 percent, increase the hotel tax on tourists, and raised the county’s income tax rate from 2.8 percent to 3 percent. The property tax rate increased the annual tax bill paid for a home valued at $200,000 by about $100 a year.
Tax rates were frozen in the current budget year, and McCarthy said this week that there would be no new tax increases in his upcoming Fiscal 2020 budget, which will be presented to the County Council by 4/1/2019.
His upcoming budget would continue his policies of balancing between revenues and spending like his two previous budgets. He will not tap the “unassigned fund balance” reserve accounts.
The political lay of the land for the County Executive Race seems to suggests that McCarthy won’t have a clear path to re-election. There seems to be at least three Republicans rivals already softly campaigning for the County Executive position, according to local and state political sources.
The word on the street suggests that a newly elected county official has quietly started seeking to build support among friends and associates to mount a race for the county executive position. We will be following what is happening right up to election night with developing news about the run for Cecil County Executive. Check back with us from time to time.