Crofton's town manager offers budget plan that maintains spending, may cut property tax Assessment base available in January

October 28, 1996|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

Crofton's budget for the next fiscal year will likely hold the line on spending and could include a slight decrease in the property tax rate.

However, the community's nearly $17,000 recreation program could be in jeopardy, its future hinging on a proposal before the County Council to amend the special tax district's purposes.

Members of the Crofton Civic Association board of directors will get their first look at the preliminary $568,000 spending plan tonight at a work session.

The budget would take effect July 1, 1997.

Town Manager Barbara K. Swann said she has proposed a budget for the board's review that contains no increase in fTC spending over the current budget. The tax rate of 26 cents per $100 of assessed value could be changed, depending on the result of a triennial county assessment of property values.

"We won't know what our assessment base is until January," Swann said. "It may be that I'll be able to go down a penny in the tax rate."

The tax rate was cut from 28 cents to 26 cents for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 1996, and remained at 26 cents for the current fiscal year.

In 1976, the rate was 47 cents, Swann said.

Another issue is whether the civic association can continue to spend tax district money to employ a recreation coordinator and sponsor events such as concerts.

The county law office has ruled that the special tax district does not have that authority under its purposes set out in county law. But County Councilman John J. Klocko III, the 7th District Republican who represents Crofton, last week introduced a bill that would amend those purposes to include "provision of recreation programs and recreation activities."

A public hearing on the bill is scheduled for Dec. 2.

The recreation program, including the coordinator's salary, would account for nearly $17,000 in the proposed budget, Swann said.

But resident William J. Flynn would like to see the program taken over by volunteers.

"It's one thing to have a program; now, they have a recreation assistant," said Flynn, a 31-year resident of Crofton who led the effort to require residents' approval of any budget increase. "As in everything else in Crofton, it will get out of control."

In January, Crofton property owners will vote on the budget, which must be sent to county financial officers for review by Jan. 31.

The board cannot increase spending without the approval of a majority of property owners at the general membership meeting in January. This year, not enough property owners showed up to hold the vote, so the budget remained at the previous year's level.

Pub Date: 10/28/96

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