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City furloughs unlikely

January 27, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- The City of Hagerstown probably will not have to furlough or lay off any of its 495 full-time employees to maintain financial solvency in fiscal year 2009-10, City Finance Director Alfred Martin said Tuesday.

Martin made the comment during an hour-long preliminary budget discussion with the City Council.

Martin and City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman painted a bright picture for the city, despite Gov. Martin O'Malley's announcement last week that he might reduce the state's work force by about 700 employees to help reduce a projected $2 billion shortfall for fiscal year 2010.

City employees weren't the only ones to receive good news.

Martin said he anticipated that the city's property tax rate would not increase.

Zimmerman praised the city staff for aggressively seeking state and federal grants to help pay the cost of capital improvement projects across the city. During 2007-08, the staff was able to secure $17.2 million, he said.

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On a negative note, Zimmerman and Martin said lower property assessments and increased foreclosure activity will reduce the city's property tax revenue.

To combat the loss of revenue, the city, among other things, will control expenditures and withhold the cost-of-living allowances for employees, Zimmerman said.

He said city administrators will meet with city department leaders to work on ways to reduce expenditures.

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