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City trims budget another $269k

April 25, 2001

City trims budget another $269k



By JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown's Mayor and City Council trimmed $269,000 more from the proposed $74.8 million city budget Tuesday, but decided to keep money for two new police cruisers and more than $46,000 in police overtime funding.

"I think I've seen the bang for my buck from the police department," said Councilman Lewis Metzner. Keeping crime down is the council's responsibility, he said.

Councilmen William Breichner, Alfred Boyer and Metzner agreed they wanted to hold off on cutting $50,000 for two new police cruisers if possible.

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Metzner said he didn't want to hold off on buying needed equipment, such as the police cruisers, just to reduce the proposed tax increase and "make it look good."

The council reviewed $319,000 in proposed cuts to the capital improvement projects budget Tuesday afternoon, deciding to go with $206,000 of those cuts.

Council members are trying to reduce a proposed property tax increase of 7.3 cents that would raise the city's real estate tax from 69.2 cents per $100 of assessed value to 76.5 cents.

If the full tax increase went into effect, it would cost a homeowner with a $100,000 home an additional $73 a year, raising that homeowner's annual city tax bill to $765.

Every $177,000 in cuts to the proposed budget represents $10 off that homeowner's annual tax bill.

The council was asked to fund the $46,642 in police overtime and $25,000 for the Hagerstown Home Store with money from the city's general fund because the Community Development Block Grant program has a spending cap for public service projects, said City Finance Director Al Martin.

The council agreed to fund the overtime, but not the $25,000 for the Home Store.

Council members said they want to take a closer look at future funding for the Home Store, Neighborhoods 1st and the Gamewell street fire alarm system.

The council eliminated $25,000 to upgrade the Gamewell system and is considering cutting back the Neighborhoods 1st budget from $67,000 to $40,000. That would free up $50,000 for Community Rescue Service.

That may not work because those funds come from the Community Betterment Fund, which is for one-time costs, Martin said. CRS officials had asked the council for an annual subsidy.

Among the cuts made Tuesday were:

- $48,000 the city doesn't have to spend because it turns out the city needs to match only 10 percent, or $19,000, for a new fire engine rather than a 25 percent match.

- $50,000 for vehicles and lawn mowers sought by the Department of Public Works and Engineering & Inspections Department.

- $7,000 for enhanced street signs to direct people from Prime Outlets at Hagerstown to the Hagerstown Fairgrounds and City Park.

The council also agreed to delay spending $30,000 to improve Municipal Stadium and to reduce funding to replace park benches from $13,000 to $7,000.

And $38,000 for an assistant public works manager was cut, Martin said.

Last week the council trimmed $160,000 from the proposed budget for the fiscal year starting July 1.

A public hearing on the proposed budget will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. in City Hall.

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