Funkstown officials say budget is good so far but increases on the way

February 08, 2011|By JULIE E. GREENE |
  • Crampton

FUNKSTOWN — So far, so good.

That seemed to be the theme of Tuesday night's meeting of the Funkstown mayor and Town Council, as officials reviewed the status of the budget for this fiscal year.

However, that doesn't mean Funkstown residents won't see increases with the fiscal year that starts July 1.

At the very least, water rates will go up in July as the town passes along a 6.5 percent increase from its supplier, the city of Hagerstown.

If revenues and expenses stay where they should be, town officials shouldn't need to tack anything more onto that water rate increase, Mayor Paul N. Crampton Jr. said after Tuesday night's informal workshop meeting at Town Hall.

Whether town officials need to raise the property tax rate again will depend on the effect of property reassessments and how the overall budget is faring, Crampton said.

During the meeting, Town Clerk/Treasurer Brenda Haynes said she had checked some Funkstown property assessments, which had decreased quite a bit.

Town officials don't want to raise any fees or taxes they don't have to, Crampton said after the meeting.

A year ago, the Town Council approved a 6-cent property tax rate increase, the first rate increase in 21 years. That put the rate at 28 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

Town officials also approved a 4.5 percent water rate hike last year, one that also affects sewer bills because water use is part of the sewer rate formula.

Hagerstown is in the midst of a five-year plan that annually raises wholesale water rates for Funkstown, Williamsport and Smithsburg through the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2013. The rate increases are to cover general inflation, operating costs and several major projects for the water system, Hagerstown officials have said.

Other steps Funkstown officials took last year to help with the budget were to cut trash collection back to once a week and reduce hours for the contractual deputy.

The town didn't fill a full-time job vacancy, either, instead hiring a part-time worker and paying $259 for state prison inmates to clean up Funkstown Community Park six times, town officials said.

Crampton said he wants to take advantage of the inmate work program again.

One expense that was up at the fiscal year's halfway mark was legal expenses, Assistant Mayor Sharon Chirgott said.

Crampton said that stemmed from bidding issues with the trash-collection contract. The town had to readvertise for trash service after confusion arose over the awarding of the contract in June 2010.

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