City holds taxes, adds cops

May 13, 1997


Staff Writer

The Hagerstown City Council approved a $73 million budget Tuesday after rearranging thousands of dollars to pay for nine new public safety personnel without raising taxes.

The vote was 4-1, with Councilman Mark Jameson voting no.

Jameson said he didn't think hiring six more police officers would be an effective way to battle drug-related crime.

The six officers will form a crime impact team, whose duties will include reducing the city's growing problem with drugs and related violence.

The police officers, a dispatcher, two more firefighters and related expenses will cost $296,408 in the fiscal year starting July 1, with $112,254 coming from the general fund, City Finance Director Al Martin said.


State and federal grants will fund the rest, Martin said.

The dispatcher should start July 1 and the police officers in October.

The city will spend $84,800 this fiscal year to start buying equipment for the officers, including four police vehicles, Martin said.

The new budget is $8 million higher than this year's $65 million budget.

City officials made $113,700 worth of changes to the budget before approving it.

They included:

  • Delaying hiring a data processing network administrator until January or contract out those services, saving $10,700.
  • Putting off marking the single lane on Locust Street for at least a year, saving $30,000.
  • Delaying purchase of a new pickup truck for Municipal Golf Course for at least a year, saving $16,000.
  • Funding $30,000 in railroad crossing markings this year rather than next.

City officials decided not to delay making a part-time planning position full-time until Jan. 1, which would have saved $8,000. That position will become full time on July 1.

The city's property tax rate will remain at $1.70 per $100 of assessed value.

Council members William Breichner, Susan Saum-Wicklein, Lewis Metzner and Fred Kramer voted to adopt the budget.

Other highlights of the budget include:

  • Two ladder trucks for Western Enterprise and Pioneer Hook & Ladder fire companies.
  • Public Square renovations.
  • Water and sewer facilities upgrades.
  • A new police dispatch system.
  • A "Home Store" to promote home ownership by offering information and assistance to home buyers.
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