City council OKs operating budget

$75.1 million plan holds line on tax rate, awaits work on 103 amendments

May 23, 2007|By Nia-Malika Henderson | Nia-Malika Henderson,sun reporter

The Annapolis city council has adopted a $75.1 million operating budget that holds the line on the property tax rate, but the aldermen still have to consider a mountain of amendments.

In a 15-minute meeting Monday, the council delayed taking up any of the record 103 budget tweaks, most of which call for cutting overtime spending, contracted services and funding for nonprofit agencies.

Instead, the council sent all of the amendments back to its three-member finance committee, which expects to take them up next month. The fiscal year 2008 budget, which is 8 percent bigger than the current one, goes into effect July 1.

Alderwoman Julie Stankivic, an independent, offered 64 of the amendments with $1.05 million in budget cuts, saying the city needs to rein in spending.

Stankivic said that she gave the bulk of the amendments to the finance committee April 25, but the group hadn't taken them up.

"I was prepared to bring my amendments to the floor [Monday evening]," she said. "But they don't want to publicly expose those things in the city that they know need to change."

Classie Gillis Hoyle, who chairs the finance committee, said that Stankivic's amendments were submitted in piecemeal fashion and without full justification.

"She had hundreds of amendments that she waited until after the process to submit, so we didn't have time to give them proper consideration," said Hoyle. "We don't have to consider them, but we will extend the courtesy of doing that because she's a council member."

The approved budget tracks closely with Mayor Ellen O. Moyer's fiscal plans for the city and leaves the property tax rate unchanged. It fell 3 cents last year to 53 cents per $100 of assessed value.

But rising assessments - up an average 27 percent in 2005 - will mean that homeowners can expect higher tax bills. The owner of a house previously valued at $300,000 will pay taxes on a newly assessed value of $330,000. That translates to a property tax bill of $1,680 in the coming fiscal year, not including county and state property taxes.

The budget includes $120,000 for partnerships in crime reduction and nearly $500,000 for nonprofit programs.

The $1.7 million estimated increase in fuel, electricity operational and contractual services will be largely offset by an increase in liquor license fees and ambulance service charges.

The approved $38.6 million capital budget includes funding for Police Department renovations, improvements to Back Creek and Truxtun parks and bulkhead replacements for City Dock.

It also sets aside $300,000 for renovations to the historic Maynard-Burgess House, $1.2 million for City Hall restorations and additional funds for work at the Stanton Center and public works buildings.

"I think the budget addresses the concerns of the city to meet the standards that the citizens want," Moyer said. "We are moving forward with capital improvements and those are critical issues relative to maintaining the infrastructure that everybody expects."nia.henderson@baltsun.com

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