Officials offer $17.3 million spending plan

City's 2002 budget is $325,000 larger than this year's

Taxes won't go up

Council says proposal based on conservative estimates of revenue


April 24, 2001|By Jamie Manfuso and Maria Blackburn | Jamie Manfuso and Maria Blackburn,SUN STAFF

Westminster Common Council introduced last night a $17.3 million budget for the next fiscal year - a spending plan city officials hope will withstand economic downturns.

"In the face of some uncertainty about the national economy, we thought it prudent to have conservative revenue estimates. And that's what we have," said Councilman L. Gregory Pecoraro, chairman of the finance committee.

The $17.3 million spending plan for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, is about $325,000 larger than the current budget. At a work session early last week, the council trimmed $1.3 million from the proposed budget to make expenditures equal expected revenues. About $1.1 million was trimmed from capital projects. City officials said they might be able to fund postponed playground and parking lot projects through newly created state programs.

The budget would not increase water, sewer or property taxes, while giving city employees a cost-of-living pay increase of 2.5 percent, plus $240. City employees received a 2 percent raise last year. To stay competitive with other police departments, the council has proposed increasing the pay for entry-level police officers from $28,023 to $31,209.

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

The city also introduced a measure that would revise the tax rate to reflect a new taxing method required by the state. Property tax must be figured on 100 percent of assessed value, not 40 percent as previously done. That means that though property taxes in Westminster aren't going up or down, the tax rate is changing, Pecoraro said.

In other business, the council gave permission to Westminster Speed & Sound to hold four car rallies at the Longwell Lot in downtown Westminster. To be held 9 p.m. to midnight the first Saturday of each month beginning in June, the events would give people the chance to show off their cars and play music.

The council also enacted two ordinances that are technical amendments to the city's historic tax credit and assessment freeze programs approved in April last year. The programs provide owners of historic properties financial incentives to restore their buildings. A third ordinance, which rewrites the sewer ordinance to comply with federal and state statutes, also was enacted.

In addition, Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan appointed Anthony O. Biller to the Parks Board, Tracey Smith to the Historic District Commission, and Joseph R. Barley and Jay Bogash to the Tree Commission.

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