Mount Airy budget plan holds line on taxes Water, sewer fees would rise $12 to pay for tests SOUTHWEST--Mount Airy * Woodbine * Taylorsville * Winfield

April 09, 1993|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

The Mount Airy Town Council has proposed a $1.1 million budget for fiscal 1994 that raises water and sewer rates but not taxes.

Town officials released the figures yesterday.

The town's tax rate will remain at 60 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. Even so, the town will collect about $43,000 more in property taxes next year because of higher property values.

Mayor Gerald R. Johnson and Town Council members were adamant about not raising taxes during discussions at budget work sessions last week. However, they agreed to raise water and sewer fees because of the costs of conducting federally mandated toxicity tests.

"I would feel uncomfortable if we would raise taxes," Mr. Johnson told the council.

Earlier this week, the council approved a $12 yearly increase in minimum water and sewer fees to pay for federally mandated testing. The council approved the increases as emergency measures.

With the increases, each household in Mount Airy will pay $2 more per quarter for sewer service and $1 more per quarter for water.

The increases will take effect July 1.

"We need to generate $22,000 to cover the cost of these tests," said Council President R. Delaine Hobbs. "This [increase] should generate the funds necessary to keep the budget in line."

Increases in trash pickup fees are responsible for one of the biggest increases in spending next year. Mount Airy expects to pay nearly $80,000 more for trash pickup in fiscal 1994 because of a proposed increase of $13 per ton in the landfill tipping fee, which haulers pay to dump trash in Carroll County landfills.

Council members said the best way to reduce trash costs is to "recycle, recycle, recycle."

The town began a mandatory curbside recycling program in July. About 40 percent of the town's trash is being recycled, Councilman Billy Wagner said.

"If it weren't for recycling, we would be up a creek," said Mr. Hobbs.

Responding to concerns about people illegally dumping at recycling bins and at Mount Airy's compost facility, the Town Council has proposed a $100 fine for violators. Council members introduced the ordinance Monday night and will take a final vote on it next month.

The fiscal 1994 spending plan -- about 12 percent higher than the current $1.01 million budget -- does not provide salary increases for town employees.

Mount Airy will receive about $18,000 less from Frederick and Carroll counties, officials said.

Although the town expects a $29,000 state grant for police protection, Councilman Marcum Nance expressed concerns about counting on that money because of previous state cuts.

Mr. Nance said he was leery of including the grant in the budget, then having the council slash the amount next year because the money isn't available. The town will have a better handle on that figure by the time the General Assembly adjourns this month, he said.

"The bottom line is that we're just going to have to wait and see," Mr. Johnson said.

Other budget highlights include:

* Reimbursing town employees 25 cents per mile when they use their own vehicles for town business. Town employees previously have not been reimbursed.

* A separate planning and zoning fund to better track spending and revenues in the department. Inspection and filing fees will go into the $100,493 fund, and planning and zoning expenses will be paid out of it.

"What has been happening with planning and zoning is that money is paid out of the general fund," Mr. Johnson said. "Is it costing the town money?

"We want to get a handle on that," he said. "We don't want the town taking a hit" on behalf of developers.

A public hearing on the proposed spending plan will be held at 7:30 p.m. April 29 at the Town Hall, 2 Park Ave.

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