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City budget proposal includes sewer rate hike

November 30, 1999|By DAN DEARTH

A 16 percent sewer rate increase is part of the City of Hagerstown's proposed $157.2 million budget for fiscal year 2007-08.

The city released the proposed budget Friday afternoon. Budget proposals must be released by March 31 of each year, according to Hagerstown's charter.

The 16 percent sewer rate increase will influence city customers living outside of Hagerstown. City residents can expect an 8.5 percent increase if the budget is passed.

City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman wrote in his budget proposal that the sewer rate increases will help fund operations and upgrades to the wastewater treatment and collection systems to meet environmental and regulatory standards.

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The city is not proposing to increase water rates and scaled back expenditures in the water fund, in part, to offset sewer rate increases.

In addition to increased sewer rates, the proposed budget calls for the hiring of nine additional firefighters and two police officers. The new hires would boost the fire department's staff to 83 personnel, and the police department's staff to 107.

The proposed budget synopsis states that the city has experienced a 14.2 percent decrease in crime from 1995 to 2005, despite a 4.27 percent population increase.

That population increase occurred between 2000 and 2005, compared to a 1 percent increase in population between 1950 and 2000, according to the synopsis.

Zimmerman wrote that the mayor and the city council's decision not to raise property taxes on owner-occupied homes, coupled with the hiring of additional firefighters and police officers, will put a "significant" strain on the city's operating revenue.

As a result, he warned in his proposal that the city has to keep a vigilant watch on funding projections.

The 2006-07 fiscal year budget was about $134.9 million ? roughly $17.8 million less than the proposed 2007-08 budget.

Some of the increased expenditures can be attributed to a $2.1 million jump in public safety spending, which includes protective inspections, code enforcement, and the fire, police and signal departments.

Other proposed spending increases, although light compared to public safety, will go toward waste collection and streets and alleys.

The city stands to gain about $2.27 million from property taxes ? regardless of a tax freeze in that area ? and $243,510 from state and county shared taxes, according to the proposed budget.

The city council is scheduled to discuss the proposed budget during a Tuesday work session.

The city charter states that budgets must be adopted no later than June 1.

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