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Council puts off vote on tax increase

June 06, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

BOONSBORO - After hearing residents' recommendations for budget trimming, the Boonsboro Town Council agreed Monday to hold off voting on a proposed 3-cent tax increase.

A new water budget approved by the council includes no new increases, while charges for sewer use will go up $3 per quarter, Town Manager John L. Kendall said.

At a public hearing before Monday's regular Town Council session, some residents questioned whether the town could shave expenses from its proposed budget. Including a possible 3-cent increase, the budget would go up from $1,025,426 this fiscal year to $1,307,269 next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

"I fully realize everything goes up, but they can cut," Mary Ann Lum said after the public hearing.

Kendall said after the regular meeting that the tax increase would help pay down a loan covering the development and expansion of Shafer Park. Residents had been told at the time the project began the town would need to increase taxes to fund the project and maintain the park, and the council already passed one increase for the park, he said.

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If the tax is not approved, "there'll have to be some pretty drastic action ... on the part of mayor and council," said Kendall, who anticipates the town will need a third increase in a few years.

The 3-cent increase on $100 of assessed property would bring the town's real property tax to 30 cents per $100 and generate $81,695 in additional revenues, according to information included with the budget.

The proposed budget includes an increase of more than $26,000 for police salaries, which would allow the department to provide "24-7 coverage," Kendall said, as well as revenues of $117,000 for the town's share of anticipated excise tax collections.

The town expects to collect excise taxes from 30 new homes in the Fletcher's Grove development, Kendall said.

While the council approved the new sewer and water budgets, it held off voting on the new general fund budget. Mayor Charles F. "Skip" Kauffman Jr. said staff should look at the budget again to see if some expenses could be cut.

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