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Construction budget keeps growing

February 17, 2005|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Washington County's proposed six-year construction budget jumped by $171.6 million over the current spending plan, mainly because of increased money requests from the Board of Education and Hagerstown Community College.

Spending for the Solid Waste Department and on road improvements could substantially increase under the fiscal years 2006 to 2011 Capital Improvement Program.

The current $263.9 million six-year capital budget covers fiscal years 2005 to 2010. The proposed fiscal years 2006 to 2011 budget is $435.5 million.

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"It just keeps getting deeper," Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell said Wednesday.

Most of the money to pay for the projects would come from excise tax revenue, borrowing and state and federal funding.

Wivell said he had problems with some of the expenses in the proposed budget, including the $21.2 million price tag of a new emergency communications system.

He said the county would pay most of that cost under the proposed budget, while other counties were able to get grants to pay for much of their communications systems.

While the county has taxes in place to help pay for school and road projects, Wivell said the budget proposes increases in borrowing, which he opposes.

Under the tentative budget, the county would borrow $13 million in fiscal year 2006 and then $14 million each fiscal year through 2011 to help pay for construction projects.

The current capital budget projected the county would borrow $10 million in fiscal years 2006, 2007 and 2010, $9.3 million in fiscal year 2008 and $7.5 million in fiscal year 2009.

"I'm guessing that we'll probably be making some changes," Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said Wednesday.

He said the commissioners have about three more weeks to review the capital budget.

Wivell said he thought straightening out the capital budget would be more difficult than approving the county's operating budget.

According to the current six-year capital budget, the school board was to receive $67.6 million for fiscal years 2005-2010. That would increase to $149 million during fiscal years 2006-2011.

The school board plans to build four new schools during that time - Maugansville, Westfields and East City elementary schools and East City High School.

Money for HCC was to be $10.7 million under the current six-year budget, but that would increase to $31.5 million under the proposed six-year budget.

The county was to spend $37.4 million on road improvements between fiscal years 2005-2010. The proposed fiscal years 2006 to 2011 budget shows spending to be $69.2 million.

The county proposes spending $31.2 million on solid waste projects under the fiscal years 2006-2011 capital budget, up from the $9.6 million that was budgeted in the 2005-2010 capital spending plan.

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