Editorial - One taxing dilemma
Keeping the peace isn't cheap.
Just ask the Hagerstown City Council, which spent some time this past Friday discussing what must be an elected official's least-favorite topic - raising taxes. But due to the increasing cost of police overtime, something must be done to balance the books.
It's still early in the budget-making process, and there'll be a few hundred proposals to trim the budget to avoid upping taxes, but there's going to be a $420,000 shortfall in the 1998-99 budget. That's a lot of trimming, in a city that really needs to invest some money to turn around a financial situation featuring flat property-tax revenues.
The city cannot abandon the neighborhoods to drug dealers and other criminals, so cutting back the police is out. To reverse a situation that has 60 percent of the city's population renting while only 40 percent own their homes, the city will need better marketing and subsidized mortgage rates. And convincing people to bring new jobs and businesses here will mean finding the means to promote the city and secure sites needed for industry.