The Annapolis City Council is scheduled to vote tonight on a lean budget that would hold the line on most city spending while adding police officers and expanding curbside recycling.
Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins' $36.8 million budget for day-to-day expenses would increase cityspending 3.4 percent while retaining the current property tax rate of $1.80 per $100 of assessed value.
But higher assessments would raise the average tax tab about 9 percent in the budget year beginning July 1.
Annapolis residents also pay county taxes, at a rate of $1.31 per $100 of assessed value.
The council will debate additions or deletions to the budget before approving it. The council meets at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall on Duke of Gloucester Street.
Hopkins' spending blueprint emerged from the council's finance committee virtually unscathed. But the three-member committee recommended an overhaul of the process that would force the administration, in the future, to set long- and short-term goals for council review before putting together a budget.
The administration would then present the committee with quarterly reports so members could monitor progress.
In proposing this year's budget, Hopkins said the city must be tight-fisted because of a sluggish economy, federal spending reductions and the loss of $2 million in fees after the expected closing of the Defense Highway landfill.
The county has rejected city plans to expand the landfill, although negotiations continue.
Hopkins' budget would freeze hiring citywide, except for thepolice department, which would get five more officers and five communications officers.
City employees would be denied cost-of-living pay increases but would continue to receive merit and longevity raises. Hopkins has abandoned plans to double employees' share of health insurance costs, however.
The budget also includes $100,000 to expand a pilot recycling program citywide.
User fees for water, sewer and refuse collection would remain unchanged. But other fees for permits, licenses and applications would rise, raising about $95,000 in new revenue.
The administration scrapped a proposal to halve the city's contribution to the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship program, which awards money to college-bound city high school students, from $5,000 to $2,500.
The proposed budget halves spending for the city's transit bus service. But Alderman Carl O. Snowden, D-Ward 5, said he will press to restore the estimated $45,000 cut because many elderly and poor residents rely on the transit service as their sole form of transportation.
He suggested the city could restore the money bycutting about the same amount allotted for the city's July 4 fireworks display.
"I find it unbelievable that the mayor would choose fireworks over public transportation," said Snowden, who noted that low-income blacks dominated testimony at a June 3 hearing on the budget.
"The people hurt by this would be the working class and the poor.It's a question of priorities."
Also tonight, the council meets at 6 to discuss election reform. Alderman will review campaign-financerecommendations from Common Cause of Maryland.