Proposed budget has council seeing red

April 18, 2007|by DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - A Hagerstown city councilman told city administrators Tuesday that the proposed 2007-08 budget almost guarantees a tax increase to compensate for a projected $1.23 million deficit the following year.

Councilman Martin Brubaker said during a Tuesday council work session that the projected deficit in the 2008-09 general fund budget should be closer to $350,000.

"I would like to see the deficit become a more reasonable figure," he said.

The overall general fund budget in 2008-09 is estimated to be about $41.5 million.

Brubaker said there are too many unknowns that the city is counting on to produce revenue.

The Maryland General Assembly, for example, could cut state funding, he said.

"We may have trouble from Annapolis ... There's a number of factors we're looking at," Brubaker said.

He also said a weak housing market could cause the city's property tax revenues to drop.

Brubaker did not discuss solutions, but challenged city administrators to find ways to reduce the projected deficit.


Proposed budget figures show that the city will have a $3,061 general fund surplus at the end of 2007-08, and a $1.23 million deficit one year later.

City Finance Director Alfred Martin said rising health-care costs for city employees are part of the problem.

In 2007-08, the city expects to pay about $6.79 million in benefits, he said. That figure is expected to climb to $7.55 million - roughly a $764,964 increase - in 2008-09.

The city's charter states that the budget must be passed by June 1 of each year.

The proposed general fund budget for 2007-08 is about $37.7 million.

General fund budgets typically cover the costs of public safety and waste collection, among other things.

The city's overall proposed budget for 2007-08 is about $157.2 million.

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