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City Council adjusts budget, keeps spending the same

May 15, 2002|BY DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

dank@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday agreed to make some minor adjustments to the proposed $79.55 million budget, but ended up with the same bottom line as it did last week.

Overall the council has agreed to about $300,000 worth of changes to the proposed budget. The changes could give homeowners less of a tax increase than previously expected.

During the Tuesday council meeting, council members agreed to return $25,000 to the contingency account, which had been cut last week. The contingency fund is a reserve for emergencies. The council also supported raising the price of city golf course season passes for people living outside the city.

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City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman's proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 called for 7.2 percent increases in the city real estate and business property tax rates.

But if the proposed changes are implemented and used to offset the tax increases, the tax rates would instead increase by about 4.9 percent.

To homeowners whose properties are assessed at $100,000, the 7.2 percent tax increase would add $53 to their annual tax bills. A 4.9 percent increase would add $36 to their annual tax bills.

The changes agreed to last week included raising the city trash collection fee by $2 a year and reducing the amount budgeted for improvements at Municipal Stadium by $10,000.

The proposed tax increases would help balance the proposed $25.7 million city general fund, which calls for increased spending including about $1.2 million to cover the additional cost of employee wages and benefits, and about $500,000 in increased spending on vehicles and construction projects.

The general fund is the only city fund that receives money from city taxes. Other funds, such as water and sewer, receive money from user rates and fees.

A final council vote on the budget and tax rates is scheduled for May 28.

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