Hampstead Council Considers Tax Cut

April 08, 1992|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff writer

Hampstead residents will see a lower tax rate in fiscal 1993 if the Town Council approves the budget proposal it discussed at a workshop Monday.

Final approval of a budget will be at the May 18 council meeting in the Town Hall, at 1034 S. Carroll St. Members also will discuss the budget at their April 20 meeting. Both meetings begin at 7:30 p.m.

The new rate would be 53 cents per $100 assessed valuation, as compared with 58 cents for the current year. It would take effect in July.

But the town still will get about $20,000 more in tax revenue than it did last year because the real estate tax base has risen from$41.36 million to $50 million this year.

For the owner of an average Carroll home worth $130,000, the town tax bill would be $275.60, as compared with $301.60 for the current year. County taxes would be an additional $1,222.

"We don't have a lot of money, but we're notin the red," said Town Manager John A. Riley.

Still, he is anxious about two variables that preclude a firm bottom line on the town's total income.

He has built a budget with expenses and revenues of $660,235 for the 1993 fiscal year, a 14 percent increase over the original fiscal 1992 (current) budget of $577,793.

But about $30,000 of the revenue in the budget proposal could be cut by the state. The money, intended as a grant for local police forces, could be reduced or even eliminated, Riley said.

Whatever is cut will come out of money set aside for street improvements, Riley said.

Riley has alsobeen told by the town's insurance carrier, Local Government Insurance Trust, that health insurance costs could go up 20 to 25 percent from the $35,000 the town paid last year.

Councilman Arthur H. Moler suggested having town employees pay a portion of their health insurance premiums. The town currently pays the full premium for each employee and one family member.

Mayor C. Clinton Becker suggested a committee study such a change for the 1994 fiscal year, but council members agreed not to charge town employees this year.

"That's not fair, since there's no cost-of-living increase for employees in the budget," Becker said. The additional expense of health insurance would mean a pay cut for employees.

"I don't know that it's something we should do this year," Moler said. "But we should be looking at it strongly. The trend today is to have employees contributing."

Although they will not receive a cost-of-living increase, some employees couldget merit increases. The council adjourned to a closed session afterits public workshop to discuss such increases.

Riley said Tuesdaythat members made no decision that night.

In the current budget, the nine town employees received a 4 percent across-the-board increase.

Instead of the usual June approval date, the town will have a budget set by the May 18 council meeting, to allow eligible low-incomeresidents to qualify for a county tax relief program, Riley said.

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