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City budget hearing tonight

May 01, 2001

City budget hearing tonight

By DAN KULIN

dank@herald-mail.com

Public hearing


- City of Hagerstown proposed budget and tax rate for the 2001-2002 fiscal year

- Today

- 7 p.m.

- Hagerstown City Hall



Residents get their chance tonight to comment on Hagerstown's proposed $74.8 million budget, which calls for a 10.5 percent property tax increase, higher water and sewer rates and several fee increases.

The City Council is expected to cast preliminary votes tonight on the budget, higher tax rate and other fees, but the final tax rate and the final version of the budget for the 2001-2002 fiscal year could change before it is adopted.

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The budget to be voted on tonight does not reflect any changes agreed to by the council, such as budget cutting measures that would lower the projected tax increase.

City Finance Director Al Martin said the council will have time to amend the budget and tax rate before final council votes on those issues are cast May 22.

Councilman J. Wallace McClure said there's a "100 percent chance" the tax rate and final version of the budget will differ from what's voted on tonight.

Over the last month, the council has trimmed almost $430,000 from the budget, which was proposed by City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman. Items cut include $100,000 for economic development recruiting and marketing, $38,000 for an assistant public works manager and $206,000 in vehicles and construction projects.

Zimmerman's proposed budget called for a 10.5 percent property tax increase that would raise the city's property tax rate 7.3 cents, to 76.5 cents per $100 of assessed value.

A 10.5 percent tax rate increase would cost a homeowner with a $100,000 home an additional $73 a year.

The budget cuts already agreed to by the council could offset the proposed tax increase by 2.4 cents, according to Martin. This means taxpayers would instead see a 7 percent tax increase.

To a homeowner with a $100,000 home, a 7 percent tax increase would raise their city tax bill by $49.

Currently, the tax rate is 69.2 cents per $100 of assessed value, and the homeowner with a $100,000 home is charged $692 annually.

Zimmerman's proposed budget also calls for increases to the trash collection fee, water and sewer rates, golf course fees, and the creation of a city fire service charge of $250 per response by the fire department.

Under the budget proposal, water rates would increase 3.5 percent, and sewer rates would increase 3 percent; the trash collection fee would increase $4 a year; and greens fees and golf cart rental fees at the city golf course also would go up.

The public hearing on the budget, tax rate and water and sewer charges is scheduled for 7 p.m. at City Hall, and is to be followed by council votes on those matters.

The 2001-2002 fiscal year begins July 1.

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