No tax raises seen in budget

Projects totaling more than $1 million absent from proposal

Vote expected next month

Pay increase planned for entry-level officers on city police force

Westminster

April 23, 2001|By Jamie Manfuso | Jamie Manfuso,SUN STAFF

Westminster Common Council is expected to release tonight an $18.3 million budget for next year that calls for no increases in water, sewer or property tax rates but delays more than $1 million in planned capital projects.

"I think we're managing to meet the city's needs," said Councilman L. Gregory Pecoraro, chairman of the finance committee. "We're pleased to be able to do it without a tax increase or increasing the water and sewer rates that people have to pay."

The proposed budget would give the city's 150-plus employees a 2.5 percent cost-of-living raise, plus an additional $240. City employees received a 2 percent pay increase last year.

To stay competitive with other municipalities, the city has proposed raising the salaries of entry-level police officers from $28,023 to $31,209.

"We need to keep salaries commensurate with what other jurisdictions are paying, so we don't become a training ground" for other police departments, said Thomas B. Beyard, director of planning and public works.

The proposed budget sets aside $35,000 to $40,000 to hire an economic development specialist at the planning department. This employee would serve as the city's Main Street manager, recruit businesses and work with the state on Smart Growth initiatives.

With funding requests higher than projected revenues, the council decided in a budget work session last week to delay about $1.1 million in capital projects.

Among the projects that would be delayed:

A $100,000 plan to build a small parking lot and sidewalks near Uniontown Road Athletic Field, Route 31 and Uniontown Road.

A $75,000 plan to build a playground for children with special needs at Dutterers Family Park, off Monroe Street near West Middle School.

A $80,000 plan to resurface tennis courts at Westminster City Park, behind the old armory building and Westminster Family Center on Longwell Avenue.

Other projects, such as the reconstruction of Uniontown Road between New Windsor Road and Route 31, are expected to begin. Of the $1.25 million cost of the project, $350,000 would come from the proposed budget.

The council will hold a public hearing on the budget May 7 at City Hall. The budget is expected to be adopted at the council meeting May 14.

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