Sykesville keeps tax rate at 77 cents for fiscal 1999 Past three years had seen a decrease

June 09, 1998|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

After decreasing its property tax three consecutive years, Sykesville has decided to keep the rate at 77 cents for fiscal 1999, which begins July 1.

Property taxes, paid per $100 of assessed value, account for $520,000 in revenues in the $1.5 million budget adopted last night. Town residents pay county taxes at $2.62.

Councilman Michael Burgoyne, budget committee chairman, pushed for a 1-cent decrease but was outvoted 3 to 1. The budget committee had also voted 4 to 2 against the decrease.

"We can accomplish a good, sound future for the town and still decrease the tax rate," Burgoyne said. "I cannot vote for the budget unless it includes a 1-cent reduction."

For the past three years, Sykesville has decreased its property tax by seven cents, from 84 cents in fiscal 1995, one of the highest among the county's eight municipalities. It also has posted a surplus the past two years.

In fiscal 1998, the surplus was $170,000. Burgoyne expects a similar surplus this year.

"Considering the total amount of revenue, we can afford to bring taxes down," he said.

But with several costly projects looming, officials said they could not lower taxes again.

"A good chunk of the increase in revenue is attributed to new development and we are almost built out," said Councilwoman Debby Ellis. "I would rather have consistency and not have to bump up the rate next year."

The town is planning a major renewal of Main Street and working on a master plan for the Warfield Complex, a newly annexed, 131-acre property along Route 32. The budget includes $50,000 each for those projects and another $100,000 for road repairs.

"We have some extremely aggressive capital plans for the next year," said Matthew H. Candland, town manager. "With so much on our plate, I am recommending we keep the tax rate the same."

Sykesville has reapplied for a $35,000 state grant to help renovate its century-old Town House, which functions as town hall. The application, denied last year, would require a matching amount from the town.

"We have to replace the roof this fall, whether we have the grant or not," said Candland, who estimated a new cedar shake roof similar to the original could cost about $30,000.

Pub Date: 6/09/98

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