Crofton residents are to get an early look at spending proposals for next year for the special community benefits district.
Barely into the current fiscal year, which began July 1, the civic association board of directors is preparing a spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 1998.
Board members' proposals, which they call extremely preliminary, could cost the tax district more than $613,000, about 8 percent more than the current budget of $568,313.
That's if residents favor several proposals: spending about $10,000 for a 2.5 percent cost-of-living raise for town hall employees; paying about $12,000 to keep a sixth police officer; and spending roughly $17,900 to install sprinklers at Crofton's main gate and in front of the clubhouse.
The board could raise spending even more, up to $60,000 over the current budget, without raising the tax rate of 26 cents per $100 of assessed value, said Town Manager Barbara K. Swann. With no increase in spending, the tax rate could be cut as much as 2 cents because of surplus revenues.
The board's decision to present its proposals to the community in a newsletter does not mean it is in favor of the spending increase, only that it wants property owners to comment on them, members said at last night's meeting.
"If we don't get that feedback from the community, we won't have any discussion about it, because they're the ones that have to tell us what they want done," said Steve Grimaud, head of the public safety committee.
Board member Patti McLain said she would rather spend $10,000 more on maintenance than on a raise for employees.
"My phone rings off the hook" with complaints from neighbors, McLain said. "Our community is looking old, dirty and dingy, and people want to see us putting more money and more effort into those areas."
The board usually holds budget deliberations in October and November, and publishes its budget proposal in the January newsletter. The budget is then made final at the general membership meeting each January.
But residents complained that the community did not have enough time to review the budget or to understand why they should approve a proposed increase.
At the Jan. 26 meeting, for the second year in a row, not enough property owners showed up to vote on the tax district budget, so the board was forced to adopt a budget with no increase in spending over the previous year.
Under tax district bylaws, in a provision approved by residents in that the board may not increase spending without the approval of the general membership.
An effort by board members to change the bylaws to allow a 2.5 percent spending increase without community approval failed at the January meeting because not enough property owners were there to vote. Seventy-five property owners are required for a quorum.
Pub Date: 8/26/97