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Sharpsburg's bills to wait for budget OK

July 14, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

SHARPSBURG

julieg@herald-mail.com

The Town of Sharpsburg won't be paying any July bills until enough members of the Town Council can be assembled to approve a budget that's already late, Mayor Hal Spielman said Tuesday.

This is the second consecutive year town officials failed to approve a budget before the start of the fiscal year, which was July 1.

While there is no state law requiring a municipality to approve a budget by June 30, Town Attorney Charles Wagaman said "it just makes good fiscal sense."

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Spielman said the town is in good shape, with most of the bills not due until late in the month. The town's four employees, who are paid monthly, won't be paid until the budget is approved, he said.

"Oh, it doesn't bother me," Town Clerk Anna Jamison said.

Spielman has scheduled a July 22 council meeting to review the budget. Usually, two votes on separate dates are taken - one to introduce the budget and one to approve it. Spielman said Wagaman is researching the possibility of getting the budget passed with one round of votes.

Spielman said he and Town Treasurer Tom McCall had difficulty getting together in June to prepare the budget because they both had vacations that month.

In the future, they will try to get the budget done earlier, he said.

Spielman was ready to present the budget for its first vote at Monday night's regular monthly mayor and council meeting, but a quorum wasn't present, so a vote could not be taken.

Council members Jeffery Saylor, Russ Weaver and J.W. Eichelberger were absent.

Some municipal charters have a provision that allows for the budget from the previous year to apply to the next year if a new budget isn't approved before July 1, said Jim Peck, director of research for the Maryland Municipal League.

Spielman said Sharpsburg doesn't have such a provision, but he will discuss whether one is needed with the council.

A copy of the proposed budget Spielman provided after Monday night's meeting shows the proposed $166,470 budget is similar in most regards to ones from recent years.

The budget provides for the annual $18,000 subsidy to Washington County water and sewer customers in the town to help them pay rates that increased dramatically several years ago.

The budget reflects an increase in the cost of trash removal, budgeting $34,000, compared with $23,600 last fiscal year.

A $28,207 deficit is projected for the fiscal year that ends June 30, 2005. Spielman said the town has reserve funds to cover the deficit.

The town's revenues from the state highway user fund continued to decrease with the expected revenue at $37,000 compared with $46,000 budgeted the previous year.

The town might have around a $5,000 deficit for the fiscal year that just ended, but the numbers have not been finalized, Spielman said.

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