Crofton voters to decide on change in bylaws

January 23, 1995|By Shirley Leung | Shirley Leung,Sun Staff Writer

Property owners in the Crofton special tax district will vote tonight on a bylaw change that would require their approval for increases in the budget.

The amendment, proposed by resident William J. Flynn, would give property owners a vote on any budget exceeding the previous year's. The bylaws now say the Crofton Civic Association can set spending levels without voter approval if increases do not exceed the previous budget by more than 5 percent.

Mr. Flynn, who has lived in Crofton for 28 years, told the civic association in November that residents needed more say in how the special tax district collects and spends money.

"No one ever, ever thought the budget would go up to $600,000," he said in November.

Usually, the nine-member civic association board presents a budget at its January membership meeting. The budget passes automatically if it does not exceed the previous one by 5 percent.

If the amendment passes, the property owners will have to vote on the association's proposed $570,776 budget because it is 1.2 percent higher than last year's. If they reject the increase, the board will convene a special meeting that same night and cut $6,800, which represents the 1.2 percent.

For the amendment to pass, two-thirds of the property owners present must support it. At least 75 property owners must be present before any vote can be taken.

At its January board meeting, the civic group said it could meet the amendment's requirements by cutting about $500 from the newsletter fund, $3,300 from the money used to pay the tax district's maintenance foreman's salary and $3,000 from maintenance.

"[The budget] will be approved Monday night one way or the other," said Crofton Town Manager Barbara K. Swann. A budget must be submitted to the county executive by Jan. 31.

The budget process for the 1995-1996 spending plan has been unusual. In December, the civic association had to approve two budget proposals because the town's controversial community counselor position was up for a petition vote.

The counselor program was rejected. For it to have continued, 51 percent of the district's 2,650 property owners would have had to support it.

The budget that comes before Crofton homeowners tonight does not include funding for the $29,148 counselor position. It does include a 2-cent tax cut, which would lower the amount paid on each $100 of assessed value to 26 cents. The cut would save the average Crofton homeowner about $12 to $15 a year, Ms. Swann said.

The budget also would let Crofton hire a sixth police officer part time and make the comptroller position part time. It also would give employees a 2.9 percent cost-of-living raise.

Because Crofton is a special tax district, the county executive must approve its budget. Last year, then-Anne Arundel County Executive Robert R. Neall said he would not approve Crofton's budget until property owners decided what to do about the counselor.

Tonight's meeting will be held at 7:30 at Crofton Elementary School.

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