No increase in tax rate expected as budget rises

Higher appraisals to raise money in county proposal

April 25, 1999|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,SUN STAFF

Carroll County residents will not face increases in property or piggyback taxes next fiscal year, even though the county's proposed operating budget is $10 million or about 5.5 percent higher than this year.

In its fiscal 2000 budget released Friday, the county commissioners proposed an operating budget of $192.7 million and a capital budget of $80.8 million, an increase of more than $33 million over the current year.

This year's operating budget is nearly $182.7 million. The property tax rate will remain at $2.62 per $100 of assessed value. The piggyback tax is 55 percent.

The commissioners will hold a public hearing on the budget proposal at 7: 30 p.m. May 6 at Westminster High School. The budget, if it passes in a vote on May 26, will go into effect July 1.

Included in the operating budget is a 5 percent increase in public school funds, which make up more than half of the budget; $1.3 million for the Economic Development Trust Fund; $13.6 million in debt service -- a priority for Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier -- and money to operate Safe Haven, a shelter for homeless persons with substance and addiction problems, which was formerly paid for with federal dollars.

The proposed budget also provides money to hire additional staff at the expanded Carroll County Detention Center, more lawyers in the state's attorney's office and enough paid emergency medical personnel to provide around-the-clock coverage in Westminster, Taneytown, Sykesville and Manchester.

The Board of Education proposal totals just over $100 million, or 52 percent, of the budget, said county spokeswoman Maggy MacPherson.

A synopsis of the budget shows property taxes increasing by $3 million and local income taxes going up more than $6 million next year. Among revenue sources, only license and permit fees are expected to decrease.

As with the operating budget, school expenditures are the largest part of the proposed capital budget. More than $45 million of the $80 million proposed is earmarked for education projects, including renovations to existing schools and new construction.

In accordance with the county's six-year Capital Improvement Plan, the capital budget also includes $4 million for agricultural preservation and nearly $11.5 million for roads, including maintenance and construction of alternate routes in high-traffic areas.

"Road was a priority," said Frazier. "I think we have good plans in this budget for roads, and I'm certainly glad to see that's under way."

In March the county unveiled plans for seven new roads in South Carroll, the most populous part of the county, that would divert traffic from congested Routes 26 and 32.

The proposed budget is available at all branches of the Carroll County Public Library and at the County Office Building in Westminster.

Pub Date: 4/25/99

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