Towns Wrestling With Budgets To Hold Down Taxes

In Sykesville, Capital Projects Are Reviewed

April 24, 1991|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,Staff writer

SYKESVILLE — Unless town department heads are willing to slash their wish lists for equipment and programs, residents are likely to pay more taxes next year as the battle of the budget looms.

During a workshop session before the regular Town Council meeting Monday night, officials discussed 1991-1992 revenue and a proposed 5-cent property tax increase.

"We looked over the tax audits for the last three years, took into consideration the economy, and stayed with a conservative budget," said Town Manager James L. Schumacher, who drafted the budget proposal with Clerk-Treasurer Vincent J. Diffenbaugh.

The proposed fiscal1992 operating budget, without capital projects, totals $654,967. The fiscal 1991 budget, which included capital expenditures, was $677,065.

For fiscal 1992, $78,000 in capital projects have been proposed.

The initial budget draft would increase the property tax rate from68 cents per $100 of assessed value to 73 cents. The higher rate is expected to generate $213,877 in taxes, based on $29.3 million in assessments.

Other revenue sources include state and county grants for police protection, highway user aid and personal property taxes.

The town gets quarterly income tax payments from the state, then smaller checks in between, Diffenbaugh said. So far, the town has received $109,000 in state income tax for fiscal 1991.

No growth was included in the town's expected $145,000 in revenue from state income taxes. Diffenbaugh said that the projected income was kept at 1991 levels because the state could not give the town an estimate of its final fiscal 1991 check, which will come in June.

"The state didn't even want to take an educated guess," Diffenbaugh said. "Usually they give you some idea of what your final check will be, but this year they're hedging."

Council President Charles B. Mullins said, "A lot of people have been laid off and we're losing money there."

Local revenue is uncertain. Trash collection charges and Dumpster fees havenot been finalized, although the draft budget projects $22,500 in income.

Because the town had to cash in two savings accounts totaling almost $55,000 to meet cash flow problems in February, the $5,000 in projected interest income will probably be lower.

Revenue from the county has risen slightly since the initial draft was prepared several weeks ago. While the expected county grant dropped by $440, the county shared road tax increased $1,274.

To improve accounting, Schumacher and Diffenbaugh set up a separate budget for 1992 capital improvements. Since much of the funding for capital projects comes fromgrants, the new budget will keep operating and capital revenue and expenditures separate.

Revenue for projects include $35,438 from the town budget and $8,000 from impact fees. Proposed capital expenditures for fiscal 1992 total $78,420, of which $70,420 would come from the town and the rest from state and county grants.

Major items on the capital improvements program for fiscal 1992 include $30,000 toward the Oklahoma Road widening and overlay, $8,000 for sidewalks, $5,000 toward a new refuse truck, $16,700 for a front-mounted 72-inch mower and $8,000 for police cars.

A second workshop with town department heads to discuss expenditures will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 2, at the Town House.

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