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Budget would raise property tax, some parking meter rates

May 21, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to introduce an $84 million fiscal 2004 budget that raises the property tax and parking meter rates in some parts of the city but does not change the price of the meters in the downtown shopping area.

The council is scheduled to vote on the budget, and related changes, at its May 27 meeting.

The city's proposed spending plan includes a property tax rate increase of 1.5 cents per $100 of assessed value. For a home with an assessed value of $150,000, the increase would add $22.50 to the property owner's annual tax bill, Finance Director Alfred Martin said.

At last week's meeting, Martin presented an alternative proposal to increase parking revenues without raising the rates from 25 cents to 50 cents per hour citywide.

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Downtown merchants - and about 1,000 people who signed a petition against the proposal - said the meter rate increase might hurt businesses and downtown revitalization efforts.

Under the alternative plan, the city would increase the monthly permit fees for the parking deck from $40 to $45 and raise parking fines for expired meters from $7 to $10.

While parking meter rates still would go from 25 cents to 50 cents per hour around Washington County Hospital, meters in the downtown shopping area will retain the 25 cents per hour rate.

Parking meters in a new Antietam Street lot near Washington County District Court would increase from 50 cents to $1 per hour.

To pay for city capital costs the city is proposing issuing a bond of about $1 million, which will pay for:

  • Three new fire pumper engines, with the fire companies receiving them paying some of the costs.

  • Paving and installing curbs on part of the Fairgrounds Park parking lot.

  • Improving drainage at Staley Park.

  • Completing the replacement of the walls at the City Park lake.


Some of the bond money initially was to pay for reconstruction of East Memorial Boulevard between South Potomac and Frederick streets but that work will be delayed.

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