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Smithsburg may get third police officer, new cruiser

May 22, 2002|BY ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

SMITHSBURG- The town's two-person police department would get a third officer and a new cruiser under the proposed fiscal year 2003 budget.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. at Smithsburg Town Hall. The Town Council is expected to vote on the budget afterward.

In the general fund portion of the proposed budget, revenues are $672,331 and expenditures are $662,468, leaving a surplus of $9,863.

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The property tax rate would remain at the same level it has been for at least 40 years, according to town officials.

The water tax rate is scheduled to increase 3.5 percent because the city of Hagerstown - which provides water to Smithsburg - is raising its rates by the same amount, Clerk/Treasurer/Manager Betsy Martin said.

The town's sewer tax rate would also go up 3.5 percent.

At $662,468, general fund spending in the proposed 2003 budget would be about 29 percent lower than this year's actual spending of $931,474.

However, this year's budget included more than $250,000 worth of state parks grants. Next year's proposed budget contains a $15,000 park grant.

Mayor-elect Mildred "Mickey" Myers, the chairwoman of the town's Park Commission, said the state trimmed the Program Open Space fund and the town received less grant money than it asked for.

Martin said it is fairer to compare the proposed 2003 budget to the 2001 general fund budget, in which expenditures were $688,489, or almost 4 percent more than the amount proposed for next year.

The property tax rate in the proposed 2003 budget is scheduled to stay at 28 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, the same as this year.

Previously, the tax rate was 70 cents per $1,000, but that was based on 40 percent of a property's value. Last year, the state began taxing the full property value, so Smithsburg's current rate of 28 cents per $1,000 is equivalent.

The starting salary of the town's third police officer would be $26,000.

"We actually need more than one (additional) officer, but this is all we can afford," Mayor Tommy Bowers said.

The town previously funded a third police officer, but never filled the position.

The 2003 police budget allocates $23,000 to buy a new Ford Crown Victoria patrol car, replacing a 1993 Crown Victoria.

Bowers said the proposed general fund budget also contains $36,000 for a new public works building and raises of 3 percent for town employees and 3.5 percent for department heads.

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