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Smithsburg to raise property tax, water and sewer rates

May 05, 2010|By DAVE McMILLION

SMITHSBURG -- Faced with the loss of $130,241 in state highway user revenue, the Smithsburg Town Council voted Tuesday night to increase the town's property tax rate.

Council members Dennis "Jack" Wenthe, Shirley Aurand and Bud Lucassen voted to increase the property tax rate to 35 cents per $100 of assessed value.

Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers said the current property tax rate, which had not been changed in more than 40 years, is 28 cents per $100 of assessed value.

Council member Jerome Martin, who voted against the tax rate hike along with council member Donnie Souders, said the current property tax rate is actually slightly more than 29 cents per $100 of assessed value.

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Martin said the increase should have been greater and that the council had the chance to create a larger financial "cushion" so it would not have to rely on surplus funds to balance the town budget. In a separate vote on the town's 2010-11 general fund budget, $21,951 in surplus money was used to balance the budget.

Martin and Souders voted against the general fund budget, saying the town should have discussed how its trash service is handled as a way to free up money for the town.

As part of the budget process, the council also approved a 5 percent increase in water and sewer rates. In-town water and sewer rates will go from $89.52 to $92.52 for every 6,000 gallons. Out-of-town rates will go from $128.21 to $132.54 for every 6,000 gallons.

Souders said after the meeting that even though the town increased its property tax rate, town residents will see a reduction in their overall tax burden because of how so-called "tax differential" money will be distributed by the county.

In the past, that money had been sent to towns to offset the cost of services like police departments and parks. But the county will now send that money to taxpayers in the form of a rebate, Souders said.

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