Revenue reductions prompt Union Bridge to cut spending

May 18, 1998|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

The town of Union Bridge is tightening its fiscal belt in the face of declining revenue for the next budget year.

An expected $3,000 increase in property tax revenues will not be enough to offset the loss of $18,000 in state and county aid for fiscal 1999, which begins July 1, town officials said.

Union Bridge plans to make do with a proposed $476,000 budget, $20,000 less than this year's spending plan.

Towns can raise property taxes to generate more income. But in Union Bridge, the mayor and Town Council plan to keep the property tax rate at 75 cents per $100 of assessed value.

Many residents cannot afford a tax increase. The median household income in the predominantly blue-collar community was $29,659 in 1990, 30 percent lower than the county average.

The Town Council is expected to vote on the budget at 7 p.m. today in the town office, 104 W. Locust St.

"Everyone cut a little bit here and there, as much as we could, to keep from raising taxes," Mayor Perry L. Jones Jr. said in describing the budget process.

Union Bridge expects to receive $35,000 as its share of state income taxes next year, $9,000 down from this year's income tax revenue.

"Municipalities are much harder to gauge than counties, because in a municipality, a single tax return can have an impact," said Marvin A. Bond, assistant state comptroller.

Capital gains taxes on stock market profits have skewed some towns' income tax revenues, Bond said.

"We have seen. at the municipal level, revenue go way up [for one year] because someone made a killing in the stock market," he said.

Bond did not have data to explain the expected decrease in Union Bridge's state income tax revenue.

The reduction in income tax revenues and the loss of county aid for roads -- which amounted to $9,000 this year -- forced the council to cut the budget.

Because of a change in the state support formula, the county has no "leftover" road money to distribute to the towns, as had been the practice for years. So Union Bridge reduced its street maintenance budget by $17,000, to $30,000 for next year.

"We're going to just do what absolutely has to be done and try to get by with the rest," Jones said.

The town also decided not to set aside $10,000 for its building fund, Union Bridge's capital improvement fund, which is to be drawn on for construction projects.

The agenda for tonight's council meeting also includes review of bids from auditors and the introduction of a crime prevention plan by residents.

Town Manager Jim Schumacher will discuss a state Department of the Environment grant and addendum to Little Pipe Creek/Wetlands Park; Jackson Ridge subdivision; and revised fencing specifications.

Dawn Metcalf will request that the recreation council take over and maintain a tot lot and comfort station at the town park.

Pub Date: 5/18/98

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