Towns Wrestling With Budgets To Hold Down Taxes

Taneytown Water And Sewage Fees May Rise

April 24, 1991|By Greg Tasker

TANEYTOWN — With their fingertips on calculators, City Council members have begun reviewing a proposed $1.4 million budget for fiscal 1992 that maintains the property tax levy at 78 cents, but could increase water and sewer fees.

The proposed spending plan is 18 percent, or $216,760,more than the current budget, which ends June 30. The bulk of additional revenue would go for capital improvement projects, city officials said.

The council will have another work session on the proposed budgetMay 7. A public hearing and final action on the plan will take placeMay 13. If adopted, taxes on the average $134,000 home would remain at $418 annually.

In addition to wrestling with water and sewer fees, the council is looking at charging users of the pavilion and lighted baseball fields at Taneytown Memorial Park.

Council members have asked City Manager Neal W. Powell to see what other communities charge for such facilities. The city asks for a $25 donation for use ofthe pavilion. But acting Mayor W. Robert Flickinger said many residents don't pay for its use.

"There should be a charge," he said.

Councilman Henry C. Heine Jr. said he didn't know whether a mandatory fee would raise more money. Generally, groups that donate toward the use of the pavilion give more than $25, he said. Officials expect about $3,000 in donations in fiscal 1992.

The city doesn't charge for use of the lighted ball field. However, Flickinger also noted thatwhile the "baseball field is beautiful," some are abusing the facility by forgetting to turn lights off, costing the city money.

Powell estimated the cost of the lights over the summer months was about $1,500.

Also under consideration by the council Monday night was a proposed 5 percent salary wage increase for city employees, includingPowell, the clerk-treasurer, police officers and utility workers.

After meeting in executive session, the council did not act on the proposal. Officials asked the staff for more information, especially on money budgeted for overtime.

Under the proposed spending plan, water and sewer fees would increase by about 17 percent, from $1.50 to$1.75 for city residents and from $2.25 to $2.65 for out-of-city residents.

Before acting on the plan, however, Powell was asked to survey the amounts neighboring communities charge for water and sewer fees.

Officials are seeking the increase to meet the rising cost of operating the water and sewer plant. Residents haven't seen an increase in rates since January 1986.

The council budgeted $795 for the purchase of a fax machine and a $1,975 for a laser printer for the city office. Officials said the equipment would make business more efficient for workers, who are asked constantly to receive or send faxes.

In other proposed capital expenditures, officials have budgeted$10,000 for the purchase of a third police car and radio equipment. Clerk-treasurer Linda Hess said the city has some money in the current budget for those purchases.

Powell has recommended that the citypurchase a $26,000 sewer jet, which is used to clean sewer lines. Hesaid the city's unit is in "very bad condition."

Hess said revenue and expenditures for fiscal 1992 are pretty much in line with the current year.

"We were conservative in our estimates," Powell said of the budget.

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