Town Council approves next Hampstead budget

Spending plan includes $750,000 water tower, $650,000 police station

June 10, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

The Hampstead Town Council has unanimously approved a $1.7 million operating and $2 million capital improvement budget for fiscal 2000.

The council adopted the budgets after a brief discussion Tuesday night. The spending plans call for no new taxes in fiscal 2000, which begins July 1.

Major projects in the capital budget include $750,000 for a water tower, $650,000 for a new police station, and $400,000 for adding a well to the town system, according to budget figures released by the town.

Reviewing the operating budget, Councilman Wayne Thomas questioned what appeared to be a 35 percent increase in police department salaries.

Chief Kenneth Meekins said the biggest reason for the jump from $212,605 to $287,772 involves a return to an accounting practice used two years ago, one that for some reason was not used by the former town manager last year.

About 20 percent of the salaries for some town clerical staff and some public works employees has been shifted into the police budget because those workers help with public safety. A portion of that percentage can be recovered in state grants, thus saving the town money, Meekins said.

Meekins said officers' salaries will increase from 3 percent to 5 percent; the addition includes the cost of promoting one sergeant to the rank of lieutenant and one corporal to the rank of sergeant.

Mayor Christopher M. Nevin said higher salaries will help retain younger officers who might be tempted to apply for more lucrative police jobs in Baltimore County and other jurisdictions.

"If you want to compare salaries, as chief I earn the equivalent of about a 10th-year officer in Baltimore County," Meekins said.

The Town Council introduced an ordinance that would keep the 45-cent tax rate on every $100 of assessed value on real, personal and mixed property.

In other business, Nevin said town officials have received 69 resumes from applicants for the vacant town manager position.

The number of applicants will be narrowed and interviews conducted before the Town Council makes a decision, possibly by next month, Nevin said.

Nevin and Manchester Mayor Chris D'Amario are asking residents to practice voluntary water conservation. Lawn sprinkling and filling swimming pools is banned in Manchester and strongly discouraged in Hampstead, they said.

"Our water usage dropped in May," said Philip Arbaugh, Manchester town manager. "The wells are holding their own, perhaps because we found [and repaired] a couple of leaks, but I'm sure conservation has played a part in [the decreased usage]."

"Washing cars and watering flowers is OK at this point, but we will be keeping an eye on water levels as the drought continues," he said.

In Hampstead, Town Councilman Larry Hentz reported water usage is running at 400,000 gallons a day.

Rainfall for April and May in Hampstead measured 4.3 inches, well under a typical range of 8 to 10 inches for that two-month period, he said.

Hentz said well levels at the beginning of spring were under past low levels, but "we have more wells now, meaning we are not at a point of making water conservation mandatory."

Hentz said all-day or all-night unattended sprinkling of lawns is unacceptable and will lead to a written warning from town officials.

Pub Date: 6/10/99

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