For the first time in at least three years, the proposed Crofton budget is not coming with a built-in controversy.
The $568,313 spending plan for 1996-1997, prepared by Town Manager Barbara K. Swann, calls for no increase over last year's budget. It does not include a salary for a community counselor, a position that divided residents for years until its elimination in January.
Residents will get their first chance tomorrow to review the budget at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall. Two other meetings will be held at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13 and Nov. 27 at Crofton Elementary School.
"It shouldn't be very controversial," Crofton Civic Association President Edwin F. Dosek said of the budget.
Residents' special tax rate of 26 cents on each $100 assessed value will not increase, and there will be no new items or programs.
The zero-increase budget is what residents hoped for after a referendum in January that changed the bylaws to say that any increase in the budget must be approved by the community.
Previously, the bylaws allowed the civic association to set spending levels without voter approval if the increases did not exceed the previous budget by more than 5 percent.
Residents' taxes represent the bulk of revenue for the budget. This year, 10 communities will contribute $508,799. Other projected revenues include about $18,000 in interest from investing tax funds and $15,500 surplus from this year's budget.
About $276,000 -- nearly half the budget -- will be spent on a six-member police force; $201,000 will pay for administrative services, including management salaries; and $90,000 will pay for maintenance of the district's common areas and parks.
The maintenance budget has been trimmed about $5,000 . The human services budget category was folded into administrative services with the elimination of the $29,148-a-year counselor.
Other changes include an increase in the county's administrative fee for tax collection from $1,000 to $2,000 per year. But that is offset by the Crofton newsletter, which will be $1,000 cheaper to produce because ads will be sold.
The possible $70,000 addition to make Town Hall accessible to the handicapped has not been factored into the budget, said Ms. Swann.
The civic association has asked the county attorney to determine whether the board can authorize funding for the addition or needs a community vote.
Because Crofton is a special tax district, Anne Arundel County Executive John G. Gary has to approve its budget.
The civic association must set its budget by the county's deadline of Jan. 31.