NEW WINDSOR — A lot of "imponderables" made the fiscal 1993 budget process an exercise in guess work, said Town Clerk Richard M. Warehime as he delivered figures to the council last week.
"This budget is the toughest guesstimate I have ever put together," said Warehime, who has worked on about 40 budgets in his tenure. "The $10,000 redemption of the sewer bond is the only sure thing we know won't change."
The budget proposes maintaining the tax rate at 45 cents per $100-- the same rate property owners in this town of 842 have paid for 10 years.
Councilwoman Rebecca H. Harman said that despite budget increases in several departments and lower revenues from the state, the council didn't plan a tax increase.
Increases in property tax revenue -- because of assessment increases -- and the town's share of the state income tax will offset losses in other areas.
"I don't think we are going to see any more dollars out of Annapolis this year, and we could have further cuts," Harman said. "Many people here budget ahead and are prepared to pay their town taxes now."
The owner of a $130,000 house, the average cost of a home in the county, now pays $234 in town and $1,222 in county property taxes.
The proposal calls for $202,729 in spending, up nearly $5,000 from last year. That increase anticipates added expenses in the police, water and sewer departments.
The town must hire a water and sewer operator who wouldsplit his or her week between New Windsor and Union Bridge. Both towns also face an increase in the cost of shared police protection.
"We are expecting to pay about $20,000 each for an operator," said Mayor James C. Carlisle. "The police situation is still an unknown."
If the towns remain in the Resident Trooper Program, they will sharethe full cost, which could increase by about $5,000 from the current$50,000.
Trash hauling and recycling fees are yet another unknown. Bids are due from haulers this month on a three-year contract.
Interest from a $300,000 surplus helps Carroll's smallest town maintain the lowest tax rate in the county. The mayor said the town may haveto tap into that money this year to pay for $110,000 in upgrades to the sewer system.
A $75,000 low-interest loan from the county willpay for a portion of the project, which should be completed this spring. The town will pick up the balance.
The town will repay that loan with $1,500 in hook-up fees for new homeowners in several planneddevelopments, the mayor said.
"When everything is developed, we will be twice as big as we are now," said Carlisle.
Warehime said he hoped the surplus would remain untouched.
"With today's lower interest rates, we already are earning less for our money," he said. "We don't want to deplete our revenues any more than necessary."
Warehime said the budget cuts about $20,000 from street maintenance projects to help offset expenditures in other departments.
The only major project scheduled is the $15,000 resurfacing of Union Bridge Road.
"We can delay some of our street projects for another year," he said. "We need the money for police, garbage collection, recycling, water and sewer."