Property holders OK tax increase

New rate to help pay for insurance for police, officials to start in July

January 14, 2003|By Rona Kobell | Rona Kobell,SUN STAFF

Crofton homeowners voted themselves a slight tax increase for fiscal year 2004 last night, in a move community leaders deemed necessary because of rising insurance costs for the town's police force and public officials.

Crofton Civic Association President Steve Grimaud urged the homeowners at Crofton's annual general membership meeting at Crofton Elementary School to approve a new tax rate of 12.3 cents per $100 of assessed value, up from 11.4 cents in the current fiscal year.

The vote was 107 for the tax increase and 9 against.

With the new rate, the owner of an average-priced $200,000 home would pay about $17 more a year in the special benefits tax district, which has its own police force, maintenance staff and Town Hall.

"If it hadn't passed, we probably could have gotten through the next year if nothing broke, but after that we'd be hand-to-mouth," Grimaud said.

The recommended fiscal 2004 budget of about $1 million would represent a 7 percent increase over the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

Grimaud explained that rising liability insurance premiums for Crofton's board of directors and the town's six-member police force were the main reasons for the increase. Premiums more than doubled from last year, and are budgeted at $25,568 for fiscal 2004. Crofton also has to buy new radios - at a cost of $10,000 - for its Police Department because the county is changing its radio dispatch system.

About 3,000 homeowners are eligible to vote on the budget, but only 116 showed up. The board was glad that at least 75 were there - the minimum required for a quorum.

Those who came said they understood the tax increase was necessary. Unlike past years, there was little contentious debate on the budget.

"I like the level of service that we have in Crofton, and I don't think that it's too much to ask," said Cole Drew, a five-year resident who voted for the increase. "It's like a large pizza and a 2-liter Pepsi. The cost is negligible."

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