Westminster council OKs '03 budget

The $21.9 million plan includes city's first tax increase in five years

May 14, 2002|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

The Westminster Common Council adopted last night a $21.9 million budget for fiscal 2003 that includes the city's first tax increase in five years - 4.8 cents - and $2.5 million for the long-awaited Longwell parking garage.

"When you take the [Longwell] garage out, there's been very little real growth in our budget, only $100,000 over last year's" budget, said Councilman L. Gregory Pecoraro, finance committee chairman.

The city's budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, includes money for day-to-day operations, its building program and water and sewer funds. No changes were made in water and sewer rates.

4.8-cent tax increase

The property tax will increase 4.8 cents to 40 cents per $100 of assessed value.

That means the owner of a home with an assessed value of $125,000 will pay $500 in property taxes next year, instead of $440, officials said.

When work on the budget began in April, city officials faced a $2.1 million difference in spending and revenue. The council trimmed $1.6 million from the spending plan in a work session. The tax increase will generate about $500,000 in additional revenue, officials said.

The additional revenue will cover $300,000 in road repairs on Royer Road. About $75,000 is designated for new salting equipment, improvements to the tot lot at Kings Park and a new position in the Fire Department.

The budget calls for a 1 percent cost-of-living raise for city employees.

In addition, the city will reserve $125,000 for a pension enhancement plan for Westminster Police Department. The city and the 43-member police department have yet to agree on a plan.

Council President Damian L. Halstad said the council is on the verge of scrapping the existing plan and devising an alternative more agreeable to the department.

Other business

In other business last night, the council:

Introduced a revised special capital benefit assessment fee that calls for commercial and residential developers to pay about $1,000 more to help cover the costs of expanding services.

Canceled its meeting May 27 for the Memorial Day holiday.

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