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Hancock passes budget on 3-2 vote

June 11, 1998|By STEVEN T. DENNIS

The Hancock Town Council approved its $2.8 million budget Wednesday night on a 3-2 vote.

Council members Debbie Wheeler and Glorious Sagle and Mayor Daniel A. Murphy voted for the budget.

Council members Greg Yost and Darwin Mills voted against the budget.

Property tax rates and water and sewer rates are unchanged in the fiscal 1999 budget, which takes effect July 1.

The spending plan lists $664,000 in general fund spending, which includes police, public works, parks and administration. That's an increase of $13,000 over the current budget year.

A 2 percent pay raise for town employees is included in the budget.

The budget also included funding for hiring a fourth full-time police officer.

Police Chief Donald Gossage said the town can't always rely on the Maryland State Police or the Washington County Sheriff's Department to police the town. Those departments do a good job but often are 30 miles away when an incident occurs, he said.

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Gossage said he has been criticized for the amount of overtime that the police have worked but said the overtime was needed. Overtime costs for the year are about $4,000, he said.

Despite the overtime, the public safety budget is finishing the year with a surplus.

Gossage said the town officers are the lowest-paid in the county and some of the lowest-paid in Western Maryland.

"We can afford another officer and we should have another officer," he said.

Gossage said an additional officer would help maintain the quality of life in town and make sure drug dealers know they are not welcome.

Gossage said that the town should consider making a change if they aren't happy with his work as chief.

Wheeler thanked Gossage for his service and said he has done a lot to improve the police department. Sagle, Murphy and Yost also praised Gossage.

"I rest a lot better knowing you guys are on (duty)," Yost said.

Other major projects planned for next year include $1.1 million for continued work on the town's water system and $230,000 for a park connecting the Western Maryland Rail Trail to Main Street.

The budget also includes $22,000 for a new pickup truck, $3,000 to improve bathrooms at the community center and $3,000 to rehabilitate the community center auditorium.

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