Money shortage imperils major Annapolis projects No tax increase expected in budget

road, sewer work pending

April 08, 1997|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

Plans for millions of dollars' worth of new roads, sewer lines and renovations for Annapolis could be jeopardized by lack of money, city officials said yesterday.

With at least five major projects scheduled to begin in the next year or so -- aimed at everything from remodeling Inner West Street to reducing congestion on Forest Drive -- city officials say they are "more than concerned" about city finances.

Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins is not expected to propose any tax increase for residents when he unveils his 1997-1998 spending plan and his proposed capital improvement budget this week. The city's finance committee chairman, Alderman Carl O. Snowden, has pledged not just to hold the tax rate steady, but to reduce it. No one is sure where money will come from to pay for big-ticket projects.

"Certainly, it's a concern," John L. Prehn Jr., the city administrator, said yesterday. "There are some essential projects that are included on the capital improvement plan budget that are worthwhile and needed projects, but they will need to be set back for subsequent years.

"Some things, like improving sewer lines, is a project we've got to address," said Prehn, who would not go into detail about which projects would be delayed but added, "It'll all come down to an individual's wants and desires and needs. Someone will probably view some of our decisions with dismay."

John E.C. Patmore, the city Public works director, said he doubted that the city could afford all of the plans officials have talked about, including:

Building a racing village and maritime museum for events surrounding the Whitbread 'Round the World sailboat race next year. Patmore said the project would cost about $438,000. The mayor has budgeted about $38,000, Prehn said.

Building a traffic circle and sprucing up a seven-block stretch of West Street as part of the Inner West Street revitalization plan. The cost would be about $13 million.

Improving sewer lines from Shipwright Street to Spa Creek and Compromise Street and parts of the historic district. The cost would be about $5.9 million.

Helping Anne Arundel County build a connector road for Forest Drive, which would cost about $680,000.

Renovating the county waste-water treatment plant, which would cost about $4.5 million.

Repairing Hillman Garage, which "will cost millions to restore parts that are slowly crumbling," said Patmore.

There is also concern over a bill that would make repairs to deteriorating sidewalks a city responsibility. Residents and businesses repair their own sidewalks now. The council could vote on that bill as early as this month.

City officials said some money might come from the bond market or private sources, but they could not say how much could be expected.

Prehn said the mayor's operating budget this year will be slightly higher than last year's $40.3 million spending plan.

Pub Date: 4/08/97

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