Smithsburg's tax rate remains steady

April 26, 2001

Smithsburg's tax rate remains steady


A decades-old tradition of steady property taxes appears safe under Smithsburg Mayor Tommy Bowers' proposed budget for fiscal year 2002.

Bowers on Tuesday unveiled a $708,564 general fund spending plan, about 7.5 percent higher than this year's.

Counting separate water and sewer funds, the town expects to spend $1.2 million to $1.3 million in the next fiscal year, Bowers said.

He anticipates higher rates for water and sewer service, but preparation of those budgets has not been completed.

The general fund budget shows revenues outpacing expenses, leaving a surplus of more than $24,000.

"I almost had a heart attack," Bowers gleefully told the council Tuesday. "I was dancing."

He is projecting $732,855 in revenue, up 11.2 percent from this year.

An influx of residents has doubled local income tax revenue in just two years, the mayor explained.

Bowers' gave the Town Council copies of his proposal Tuesday.


A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for May 29. The council expects to adopt a spending plan in early June. The fiscal year begins July 1.

There are only a few new projects in the proposed budget, including an upgrade of the lights on North Main Street and road work for Maple Avenue and three alleys.

The town will continue to pay a professional planner to rewrite the zoning ordinance.

Last year, the town funded a third police officer, but never filled the position. The federal grant has been eliminated, Bowers said.

The town's property tax rate has stayed the same for at least 40 or 45 years, said Clerk/Treasurer Betsy Martin.

This year, a Maryland law changed they way property tax is figured for all municipalities. Forty percent of each property's value had been taxed, but now the full value is used, according to the state Department of Assessments and Taxation.

The change does not affect tax bills because the rate drops while the assessment rises. Smithsburg's rate, for example, will drop from about 70 cents per $100 of assessed value to about 28 cents.

Bowers and the Town Council spent much of Tuesday evening debating 3 percent raises the mayor wants to give town employees. He said the raises are incentives for good work and lets employees maintain their "current purchasing power."

Councilman Jerome Martin agreed that workers need rewards. He suggested giving full-time employees a choice of the town paying more for family health insurance or a salary increase.

Councilman Mike Rohrer said the town should give no raises. "I think they're well-paid for the job they have," he said.

Councilman Jake Johnson disagreed, favoring raises beyond what Bowers proposed.

He said the clerk/treasurer, police chief and public works director, as department heads, deserve 4 percent salary increases.

Councilman Charlie Slick said it's unfair to give some employees raises and not others, so he opposes giving any.

Bowers said the council is not bound to give every employee a raise. At his urging, council members will make recommendations on which employees should get raises.

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