Council hearings open to residents

April 27, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

The Hagerstown City Council will hold a number of public hearings tonight, including the only scheduled opportunity for city residents to comment on the city's proposed 2004-05 $95.6 million budget.

The hearings will cover a range of topics from property tax increases and water and sewer rate increases to zoning changes and the distribution of federal money for community programs.

The topics include:

  • Proposed budget. The $95.6 million spending plan would pay for the city's overall services and construction for the year beginning July 1. The plan would raise fees for more than two dozen city services and increase the city's property tax rate by 1.9 percent to make up a $1.1 million deficit.

  • Proposed property tax increase. To balance the budget, city officials are proposing raising the real estate tax by 1.5 cents and the business property tax by 3.75 cents per $100 of assessed value.

  • Water and sewer rates and changes. In one of several proposed increases, the city would raise rates for water and sewer service by 3.5 percent. City officials have said the rate increase would cost an average city customer $8.84 a year.

  • Community Development Block Grant Program spending proposals. The city plans to distribute nearly $2.8 million in U.S. Housing and Urban Development block grant funds for the year to more than 40 community groups, city government offices and housing programs.

  • Amendments to the 1997 Comprehensive Plan. The proposed changes to the city's main planning document include new recommendations for the re-use of the Central Chemical site after a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-supervised cleanup is complete and changes to promote downtown economic development.

The hearings will take place during the City Council's voting session, which is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers in City Hall, 1 E. Franklin St. For more information, call 301-739-8577, ext. 111.

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