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Williamsport proposes lower spending

June 09, 2007|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WILLIAMSPORT - Spending would drop by 2 percent and the tax rate would stay the same under a fiscal 2008 budget that the town of Williamsport is considering.

A public hearing on the $4 million budget is scheduled for Monday.

The town council already has approved raising sewer rates 5 percent, offsetting the increase it will pay to Washington County for sewer service, Clerk/Treasurer James R. Castle said.

The council also agreed to raise water rates 2.5 percent, even though the city of Hagerstown, which supplies the town its water, isn't raising its rates in the coming year.

The extra money from water fees will be put aside to cover a possible future increase by the city, said Councilman Earle R. Pereschuk Sr., who supervises water and sewer operations for the town.

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The town cut spending for fiscal 2008, which starts July 1, by "just being fiscally responsible," Mayor James G. McCleaf II said.

He said a new computer system, a new bookkeeper and a new auditing firm have helped the town emerge from a messy financial situation.

The tax rate is expected to remain 40.5 cents per $100 of assessed value, the same level - or equivalent, under a different assessment method - it has been for more than 20 years.

Still, property tax bills will go up because of rising assessments.

Town employees are scheduled to get raises of up to 5 percent, based on their job performance, McCleaf said.

One of the biggest planned projects - a sewer system upgrade, in phases - isn't yet reflected in the budget. It has been estimated to cost $5 million.

McCleaf said the state has promised the town a $400,000 grant, but the money hasn't arrived yet. When it does, it will be added to the budget.

Assistant Mayor Monty R. Jones, who oversees the town's streets, said there is money for a road project near the Little League field.

Councilman Jeff Cline said the budget has new money for economic development, including a Web site and educational material about the town.

The town, C&O Canal National Historical Park and the National Park Service are sharing the cost of a bridge-repair project at Cushwa Basin, which should help tourism, McCleaf said.

The town's general fund is proposed at $1.16 million for fiscal 2008 - down $45,000, or 3.7 percent, from the latest estimate for the current year.

The electricity fund budget, which is estimated at $1.9 million, is proposed to go up $175,000 next year.

Castle said it's too early to know how much electricity rates will go up, if at all.

The water and sewer budget is scheduled to drop from $983,000 so far this year to $768,000 next year, mainly because of less usage, he said.

If you go

What: Public hearings related to Williamsport's proposed fiscal 2008 budget

When: Monday, 6:30 p.m. (property tax rate) and 6:45 p.m. (budget)

Where: Williamsport Town Hall, 2 N. Conococheague St., Williamsport

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