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Smithsburg budget OK'd

June 14, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

SMITHSBURG - Smithsburg's water and sewer rates will go up on July 1, but not as much as anticipated.

Smithsburg Town Council voted 3-2 during a special meeting Monday to adopt a fiscal 2000 budget that includes combined water and sewer increases of 26 percent for in-town customers and 38 percent for out-of-town users.

The approved plan was a compromise from a previous proposed increase of 38 percent for in-town users and 46 percent for out-of town users favored by Mayor Tommy Bowers and Councilmen David Williams and Thomas Hornbecker.

The approved plan was supported Monday by Councilmen James Cunningham III, Michael Rohrer and Charles Slick, who maintained that the higher increases were too large to make in one year.

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Williams and Hornbecker voted against the new plan.

Both proposals balance the budget. The 26 percent and 38 percent increase will leave a $116 cushion in the town's water fund for emergencies. The 38 percent and 46 percent hike would have generated $49,032.

Under the approved plan, an average customer's combined rates will increase $82.14 for in-town users and $144.26 for out-of-town users annually.

The approved water and sewer budgets eliminate any large-user discounts.

"I said at the public hearing last month I could live with either plan. But number three (38 percent and 46 percent) would be biting the bullet harder and create less need for adjustment next year," said Bowers.

The town's general fund lists revenue of $606,279 and expenses of $605,209.

Last year's general fund total revenue was $514,859. Expenses were listed at $513,565.

The town will spend more in 2000 for physical improvements such as the milling and paving of North Main Street. That allocation rose from $20,000 in 1999 to $28,980.

The salary of treasurer/secretary Betsy Martin went up because her hours are increasing. She also will receive a 3 percent cost-of-living increase, said Bowers.

Her salary will go from $27,373 to $32,222.

The street department salaries allotment went from $25,000 to $39,360 for public works director Bill Loughridge and an assistant the town may hire in July, Bowers said.

Property taxes will remain at 70 cents per $100 of assessed value.

However, the assessed value of most residential property increased, according to the Maryland Department of Assessments.

Discounts of 5 percent if the tax is paid in July and 2 percent if it's paid in August will still apply.

Monday night's special meeting was held because council failed to reach accord on a budget during a meeting last Thursday. During that meeting, Williams and Hornbecker voted to approve the budget while Slick and Rohrer abstained. Cunningham did not attend the meeting.

Had Slick and Rohrer voted against the budget it would have allowed Mayor Tommy Bowers, who favored the larger increase, to break the tie.

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