Editor’s Note: The Frederick News-Post is profiling candidates for various public offices in Frederick County ahead of the July 19 primary election.
County Councilor Phil Dacey said he would try to increase the council’s say in budget decisions and seek to curb government spending if re-elected.
Dacey said he would introduce a bill to allow the board to make more substantive changes to a proposed budget, such as reducing a dollar amount in one area to increase funding elsewhere.
Under the county code, the board can only cut a proposed budget before voting on it, with one exception – the board can vote to increase county school board funding.
Dacey was one of two council Republicans who sought to cut a total of $6 million from the county’s $792 million budget for fiscal year 2023, which begins July 1.
Each of the past four years, he and Councilman Steve McKay have called for cuts to proposed budgets. The board rejected almost all of the proposed cuts.
Dacey said the current board, which includes four Democrats and three Republicans, serves as a “rubber stamp” for County Executive Jan Gardner, D.
Gardner is serving a limited term and is not eligible for re-election.
“I think I’m getting my voice out, but it’s been a lot harder for me to prevail on any given issue at the county level,” Dacey said. “It seems that the [council] is somehow calcified in its solidarity support for the county executive.
Dacey works for the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration as Director of Policy and Innovation. He was born and raised in Frederick, and he still lives in the city with his family.
He served on the Frederick Board of Aldermen from 2013 to 2017 and was elected to County Council in 2018.
Dacey is one of three Republican candidates vying for the two council seats in the July 19 primary. Tony Chmelik, a former county councilman, and Dylan Diggs, a contractor for the US State Department and president of the Republican Club of Frederick County, are also candidates.
Two candidates from each party stand in the November general election.
Brad Young, chairman of the Frederick County Board of Education, and Renee Knapp, former board member of the Women’s Democratic League of Frederick County and the Frederick County Democratic Central Committee, are running for the Democratic nomination.
Dacey said the upcoming board should support state and local transportation projects, including an existing state initiative to expand Interstate 270 to relieve traffic heading to the Capital Region.
The county, he said, should find new ways to help the state’s plans to expand US 15 through the city of Frederick, such as dedicating the county’s share of tax revenue to on Gasoline and Vehicles.
Dacey said the county, to slow spending, should not create new government positions or hire new employees next year, and should apply the same approach to new departments.
“If new functions are needed, we should find ways to integrate those functions into existing tasks,” Dacey said.
After consecutive years of surprisingly high tax revenues, the county should find more ways to reduce property and income tax rates, he said.
Dacey said the county should provide tax relief to all taxpayers. The county provided what it called targeted aid.
The county’s budget for the next fiscal year includes a 7% reduction in the income tax rate for taxpayers who file a joint return and have taxable income of $100,000 or less and for taxpayers who file a joint return. as an individual with taxable income of $50,000 or less. About 60% of filers in the county are eligible, according to county filings.
Dacey voted against the measure and said the county should have lowered the rate for more people using county surplus funds.
“If we can’t find a way to give more back to taxpayers now, I don’t know, in my opinion, if we’ll ever have the right terms,” Dacey said. “It’s never been so good in [county] government, as far as revenue is concerned.
Follow Jack Hogan on Twitter: @jckhogan