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Budget reduced, tax rate the same

June 03, 2003|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

BOONSBORO - Spending in Boonsboro's fiscal year 2004 budget, which was approved Monday evening, is 4 percent lower than it was in the current fiscal year.

The town tax rate will stay at the same level it has been for about 60 years, Town Manager John Kendall said. The water and sewer rates will remain constant, too.

The Town Council unanimously approved a $780,094 general fund budget Monday after a public hearing that two people attended. Spending in the fiscal 2003 budget is $814,329.

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The tax rate will remain 24 cents per $100 of assessed value.

"We have a balanced budget without raising any taxes," said Mayor Charles "Skip" Kauffman Jr.

The budget proposal projects a 2004 general fund surplus of $370.

Kendall said Boonsboro, like towns and cities across Maryland, faces a decrease in revenue.

The hardest-hit fund will be the Program Open Space revenue line, which will drop from $90,000 to $50,000.

The state recently slashed money from the grant program, which funds park land and conservation projects.

Kendall said the town is losing Program Open Space money that would have paid to develop the King Farm property into a park, so the project is on hold. The town may ask the Maryland National Guard to assist with engineering and grading, he said.

One full-time water and wastewater job was cut from the general fund budget through attrition, Kendall said.

Kauffman said the person holding that job recently quit. The position will not be filled.

To counter rising health-insurance costs, largely for prescription drugs, the town adjusted its coverage, Kendall said.

A provision allowing employees to get medical treatment from an out-of-network provider was cut because no employees used it, Kendall said.

Also, the town increased its co-payment from $10 to $20.

The town insures eight-full time employees and two part-time employees.

Even with the changes, the cost of health-insurance coverage rose about 20 percent, according to the budget.

The only significant spending increase in the 2004 budget is in the public safety line for resident sheriff's deputies. That line jumped from $54,000 to $88,000.

However, the increase is due to a previous error. Kendall explained during the public hearing that three months' worth of funding for the deputies inadvertently was left out of the 2003 budget.

The two largest expenses in the 2004 general fund budget are highways and streets, at $168,490, and public safety, at $123,450.

Sanitation is third, at $90,000.

The 2004 wastewater fund budget is $204,500, up from $181,029 in the current fiscal year.

The water fund budget is $378,122, up from $374,385 this year.

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