HAMPSTEAD — Despite the no-money epidemic around the state, Hampstead's proposedbudget is lean but healthy and will result in no tax increase for residents.
The Town Council received a proposal Monday night for the$674,935 budget, 16.8 percent over the original budget for the current year, which ends June 30.
Although state aid is expected to be down, growth within the townis bringing in more property tax and income tax revenue, said Town Manager John A. Riley.
And the Police Department, which usually needs about $20,000 each year in capital spending for expenses like carsand radios, didn't need new equipment this year, he said.
Police had asked for cellular phones, but at the request of council members at a budget workshop April 6, Chief Kenneth Russell agreed to have less expensive pagers rented for less than $15 a month.
Final approval of the budget will be at 7 p.m. May 18 in the Town Hall, 1034 S. Carroll St.
The tax rate would be 53 cents per $100 assessed valuation, costing the owner of a typical $130,000 home about $275.60 in town taxes, plus $1,222 in county taxes.
Although the tax rate wouldbe lower than the current year's 58 cents, most homeowners would endup paying the same amount as last year, because a home's assessment goes up each year, Riley said.
The town's total residential assessment rose from $42 million last year to $50 million this year. The town's population increased by about 200 people to 2,987, according to statistics from the county Planning Department.
The budget does include two new positions -- a full-time maintenance worker and a part-time office employee. The positions would increase the town's staff to 11 employees.
Riley also included $5,700 for planting and maintaining trees and becoming a "Tree City," which makes the town eligiblefor a match of another $5,700 from the state for the same purpose.
Councilwoman Jacqueline J. Hyatt had urged the town to take advantage of the state program.
Also at Hyatt's request, the budget againhas $15,000 budgeted for improvements to the town swimming pool, thesame amount budgeted last year.
The pool is scheduled to open theSaturday before Memorial Day, Hyatt said. Memberships are selling well, she said.
Another $15,000 is allocated for operating expenses for the pool, but the actual amount to be spent will depend on how much comes in from pool memberships and gate fees, Riley said.
If the revenue from memberships only comes to $12,000, then that's all thepool gets for operating, he said.
While the budget also has about$9,000 more in road-repair money than Riley expected as recently as two weeks ago, the town has more streets in need of work than it has money for repairs, the town manager said.
If more money becomes available, road repairs will take priority, he said.