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Some towns get more, some less in tax setoffs

January 22, 2002

Some towns get more, some less in tax setoffs



By SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The City of Hagerstown and the towns in Washington County will receive an average of 1.84 percent more in tax setoff money from the county this year.

The county setoff, also known as a tax rebate, partially reimburses municipalities for police, parks and road services they provide.

The allocations are based, in part, on costs for services in fiscal year 2001, which ended last July.

The total amount being given out is about $1.02 million, up slightly from the $1 million given to the municipalities last year.

While on average the increases will be small, the town of Smithsburg will receive 72.35 percent more tax setoff money than it did last year.

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The increase is the result of 2000 U.S. Census population figures, which showed Smithsburg's population grew after the 1990 Census, Washington County Budget and Finance Director Debra Bastian said.

The tax setoff is calculated based on population, assessable tax base, and taxable income.

According to the 2000 Census, Smithsburg's population grew by 76 percent between the 1990 Census and that taken in 2000. The town had a Census population estimate of 1,221 in 1990 and of 2,146 in 2000.

Smithsburg Mayor Tommy Bowers said the town was always happy to get more funds. He said no decision has been made on how the setoff money will be spent.

The town of Funkstown had the largest setoff decrease, a 26.3 percent drop. Its population dropped from 1,136 in 1990 to 983 in 2000.

Mayor Robert L. Kline said the change won't affect the town budget. As soon as he heard the census population estimate, he started planning for the setoff decrease, he said.

The City of Hagerstown will receive less than 1 percent more this year than last year.

As was the case last year, taxable income and population has increased more in the unincorporated areas than in the towns, Bastian said.

Rebates for police protection increased this year because there was an increase in police-related operating and capital expenses, Bastian said.

Park setoffs decreased this year because there was a reduction in county park expenses, she said.

A joint Washington County and City of Hagerstown tax setoff committee is studying whether to replace the current tax setoff payment with a system that would establish different tax rates for county residents living inside and those living outside of municipalities.

That work has not been completed, county officials said.

For the next few months, starting today, the Washington County Board of Commissioners will meet with municipalities in the county to inform them of the amount of tax setoff money they will receive. Other issues are often brought up at those meetings.

-- The commissioners meet at 7 p.m. tonight with the Keedysville and Sharpsburg town councils at the Keedysville library.

The other meetings are:

- The Smithsburg Town Council at Town Hall at 7 p.m. Jan. 29.

- The Williamsport Town Council at Town Hall at 7 p.m. Feb. 5.

- The Hagerstown City Council at Council Chambers at 4 p.m. Feb. 19.

- The Funkstown Town Council at Town Hall at 7 p.m. Feb. 26.

- The Boonsboro Town Hall at the Boonsboro Community Center at 7 p.m. March 5.

- The Hancock and Clear Spring town councils at Hancock Town Hall at 7 p.m. April 2.

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