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Public hearing on Washington County budget set for Tuesday

May 12, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

· Click here to download a PDF copy of the county's fiscal 2009 budget summary.

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The Washington County Commissioners will hold a public hearing Tuesday to get feedback on their proposed fiscal 2009 budget.

The hearing will be held at Hagerstown Community College's Kepler Theater and will start at 7 p.m.

The proposed $338.4 million budget would increase spending 10.5 percent, or $32.2 million, over this fiscal year's $306.2 million budget, according to a summary prepared by the county's budget and finance department.

Most of that increase would come in the county's Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which is a six-year budget that pays for big-ticket items such as roads and schools.

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Excluding the CIP increase, the county's spending would rise about 5 percent.

The county's general fund, which pays for most government services including education and public safety, would increase 5.8 percent, or $11.3 million, to $207 million.

The county's property tax rate will stay at 94.8 cents per $100 of assessed value, however, because property values continue to rise, tax bills will go up.

County property tax revenues would rise 8 percent, or $7.8 million, if the rate is kept at 94.8 cents.

Water rates would go up 3.7 percent and sewer rates would rise 3.6 percent for average residential customers -- defined as those living in a home that uses 12,000 gallons per quarter.

On average, the increases would cost water and sewer customers about $34.24 more per year.

The rate hikes are part of a long-term plan to pay off the county's water and sewer debt, which stands at about $29 million, according to budget documents.

The fiscal 2009 budget would fund 63.5 new full-time positions, many of which would be in public safety departments.

An emergency housing unit at the Washington County Detention Center would employ 11 new officers, and funding for Phase 2 of the Emergency Services Department's strategic plan includes money for 18 life-support technicians.

The county would borrow $12 million under the proposed budget, down $8 million since budget talks began.

Capital spending would rise $20.1 million under the proposed budget, from $67.4 million this fiscal year to $87.5 million in fiscal 2009.

Some of the largest capital expenditures scheduled for this year include $21.7 million for state-mandated upgrades to the Conococheague Wastewater Treatment Plant, $6.5 million for construction and engineering of an arts and sciences complex at HCC and $4.5 million to cap cells one through five at Resh Road Landfill.

The county would also spend $3.5 million on a public safety communications systems upgrade, $3.4 million to widen the intersection of Halfway and Massey boulevards, and $2.7 million on a central booking facility at the Washington County Detention Center.

The commissioners are scheduled to vote on the budget next month.




If you go...



What: Public hearing for Washington County's proposed fiscal 2009 budget

When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Where: Hagerstown Community College's Kepler Theater

· Click here download a PDF copy of the county's fiscal 2009 budget summary.

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