City budget in the black

November 20, 1996


Staff Writer

Despite unexpected expenses related to several winter storms, the City of Hagerstown ended the 1996 fiscal year with a small general fund surplus, city officials said Tuesday.

"It was a challenging year, particularly with the snow problem," said City Finance Director Al Martin. The city ended the fiscal year with a $3,609 surplus in its general fund.

Snow removal expenses were $533,278 more than expected for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 1996, Martin said.

The city's snow removal costs for last fiscal year's 11 snow storms were $671,074, according to the year-end financial report. That's almost a 600 percent increase in snow removal costs from the previous fiscal year, when snow removal costs $96,027.


The city received a $36,700 reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the costs of last winter's snowstorms, officials said.

"We're appreciative of the help FEMA gave us. Unfortunately, in the scheme of things it was very modest," Martin said.

After several winter storms, including the Jan. 6-8 blizzard that dumped 35 inches of snow on Hagerstown, city officials expected the city to end the fiscal year with a $200,000 deficit, Martin said.

The city managed to end the fiscal year with a surplus, with the help of some unexpected revenue increases, including proceeds from the sale of three lots in the Hagerstown Business Park off Burhans Boulevard, one more lot than city officials had expected to sell, said City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman.

City department managers also helped by cutting back on spending where possible, Martin said.

The city's water customers, not taxpayers, paid off about $40,000 in unexpected expenses that resulted from flooding at the city's R.C. Willson Water Treatment Plant near Williamsport in January, city officials said.

Despite a good opinion of the city's finances by the Baltimore firm Wooden & Benson, the firm reported record-keeping errors, including an overtime record-keeping error that occurred when city officials changed the payroll system.

Those errors were corrected in August, Martin said. No one was overpaid or underpaid, he said.

Other financial notes include:

  • City property taxpayers received a one-cent cut in the property tax rate for the 1996 fiscal year. The property tax rate dropped from $1.71 to $1.70 per $100 assessed value.
  • The Government Finance Officers Association gave Hagerstown an excellence award for its fiscal year 1995 financial report.
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