Taneytown council OKs '05 budget

$5 million includes funds for city pool, skate park, new recreation director

May 12, 2004|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Taneytown's total budget for the coming fiscal year -- just shy of $5 million -- includes money for a new skate park, the eventual rebuilding of its swimming pool and a new recreation director, but maintains the current tax rate of 32 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

The spending plan was adopted by a 4-1 City Council vote Monday night after a public hearing that attracted a handful of residents.

The budget for the 2005 fiscal year is $50 less than $5 million, said Linda M. Hess, the city clerk-treasurer.

Hess said the budget is separated into five categories: a general operating budget of a $1.94 million; a utilities operating budget of more than $870,000; a general capital budget of about $774,000; a utility capital budget of almost $1.4 million; and a $40,000 separate account for the city swimming pool.

The swimming pool was declared unsafe by a Carroll County inspector in January. A city committee is working on the project, although plans for a new facility have not been drawn.

The pool is supported by paid memberships with financial help from the city. Mayor W. Robert Flickinger said officials wanted to put money aside to pay for engineering or preliminary expenses that might arise in the coming year.

The city has a $1,500-per-unit impact fee for recreation that it charges developers. Councilman James A. Wieprecht said the city estimates that it receives about $75,000 a year from the fee on new units.

The city also has budgeted $64,300 to build a skate park and purchase equipment.

Flickinger said a new city recreation director will begin work soon, at a salary of $25,182. The Taneytown Recreation Council had been dissolved and was re-formed in recent months, but he said it remains somewhat disorganized.

Councilwoman Jacquelyn J. Boisvert opposed creating the full-time position -- one of the reasons for her vote against the budget, she said later. She also objected to including merit raises for a few city employees and not enough increases for wastewater treatment plant workers and police officers.

At Flickinger's suggestion, the council voted to have one of two school crossing guards spend two hours a day -- at $10.89 an hour -- checking for expired parking meters and ticketing cars.

"So many people complain about the meters not being read, tickets not being issued," Flickinger said. "We can't afford to have a police officer out there writing parking tickets."

Flickinger told the council he hadn't yet asked the guard about taking on the duties, but he said yesterday that the guard has agreed to begin next month.

Police Chief William E. Tyler said he and his officers don't object to checking the meters, but that calls for service have increased tremendously.

"I had six calls today myself," Tyler said, adding that the force has nine officers, two of them still in training, instead of its full-strength 10.

The size of the force follows a formula of two officers for every 1,000 people, said Tyler, using a population figure of 5,100. But, Hess said yesterday, Taneytown's population stands at about 5,900.

Flickinger said Taneytown should consider imposing a new impact fee on development for fire and police protection. In addition to the recreation impact fee, it also charges such a fee for water and sewer service.

The city has asked for an opinion from the Maryland Attorney General's Office on the legality of imposing a police-and-fire impact fee, said City Manager Gary W. Hardman.

The city would have to show a correlation between new development and the demand for services, and the money could not be used for salaries, but could go toward equipment and vehicle repairs.

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