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Hagerstown budget hearing set for Tuesday

May 02, 1999|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

Residents will get their chance to speak Tuesday evening on Hagerstown's proposed $64.8 million budget, which includes cutting curbside trash pickup from twice to once a week and increasing the trash collection fee by $10 a year.

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Other highlights of the budget include increasing water rates 3 percent, raising sewer rates 3.5 percent, raising the cost of monthly parking permits by $2, and eliminating the parking permit subsidy for city employees.

No property tax hike is proposed this year. The rate will remain at $1.74 per $100 of assessed value.

Personnel cuts in the proposed budget would result in laying off the market master at the City Farmers Market, a part-time position.

Also, seven full-time positions that are currently unstaffed or soon will be vacant due to retirements or resignations, including three in the police department, would not be filled.

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Before the 7 p.m. public hearing at City Hall, the mayor and City Council members will meet for a 4 p.m. budget work session. The work session is expected to last more than two hours during which they are expected to discuss the proposed $21.6 million general fund budget, proposed construction projects and user fee rates.

Council members are expected to debate the proposal to raise the trash collection fee during that work session.

Council members Lewis C. Metzner and William M. Breichner have said they would rather raise the property tax rate than increase the trash collection fee.

They say the trash fee increase was done to help balance the budget and not to offset an increased cost of the service. Therefore, they believe the fee increase is a hidden tax increase.

The mayor and council members reviewed many aspects of the proposed budget during work sessions in April.

City Council members are expected to vote to introduce the proposed budget on May 11 and cast a final vote on adopting a budget on May 25. However, a final vote on the budget could come during a May 18 council meeting.

The budget is for the 2000 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

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