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Smithsburg gets bad news on state funding

December 01, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

SMITHSBURG -- Del. Andrew A. Serafini delivered "bad news" to Smithsburg Town Council members Tuesday night, including how the economy continues to suffer and that more funding cuts from the state are coming.

Serafini, R-Washington, spoke to the council and Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers before the upcoming session of the General Assembly.

Despite some positive signs in the stock market, the economy is not robust, and there is "nothing to be excited about," Serafini said.

Among the problems are real estate values that continue to struggle because of an oversupply in houses, Serafini said.

Regarding state funding cuts from the state, which municipalities have already been feeling, "there's more to come," Serafini said.

"It's going to make things difficult," he said.

Council member Jerome Martin vented frustrations over the financial troubles the town has already been facing, like losing about $130,000 in state highway user revenue.

Then the Washington County Commissioners voted not to give "tax differential" money to the town, as it normally does, Martin said.

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The money comes from the county to help offset the cost of running the town's police department and park services, council members said.

The county commission instead decided to use the money to give town residents a rebate, which Martin said "put the screws to us."

Such funding cuts significantly hurt the town, since its budget is only about $1 million, Martin said.

Martin also complained about other issues, like a new state regulation that local government planning commission members must get training to be certified.

Martin said the town does not have the resources to abide by such regulations.

Serafini told council members and Myers to call local state lawmakers or e-mail them to share their concerns.

"You've given us bad news, but at least we know where we're going," Myers said.

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