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Public hearing scheduled for tonight on city budget

April 29, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown City Council is to hold a public hearing tonight to give residents a chance to comment on the proposed annual budget, which includes a parking rate increase and a property tax rate hike.

During a public work session from 5 to 7 p.m., the council is scheduled to discuss areas of the budget proposed by City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman.

The public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m.

At the work session, Zimmerman is to present possible solutions to the most controversial part of the $84.1 million proposed budget so far: Increasing parking meter rates from 25 cents to 50 cents per hour and raising parking fines for expired meters from $7 to $10.

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The proposed budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1 also calls for increasing the monthly permit fees for the parking deck from $40 to $45.

The city is proposing the changes, which are estimated will bring in an additional $300,000, to pay for parking expenses that otherwise would have to be subsidized by the general fund, Finance Director Al Martin has said.

Some downtown merchants have been collecting signatures from customers in a petition drive designed to convince the council to alter or reject the proposal, which merchants say would make their job of drawing customers downtown more difficult and could turn some customers away.

The petition drive has garnered about 600 signatures, which will be presented to the council during the public hearing, Peggy Cushwa, owner of Maggie's Hang-Ups, said Monday.

At its April 8 work session, a majority of the council expressed support for the increase, provided the city works with merchants to find a way for them to reimburse customers for parking costs or develop some other way to defray costs.

Council members are scheduled to take their first vote on the budget at a May 27 meeting.




Discussion Topics:

Discuss the possible parking meter rate and fine increases here

Tax Hikes? Discuss them here!

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