Hancock mayor says tax increase unlikely but town affected by less funding

Mayor Daniel Murphy: State of town finances is healthy

February 09, 2011|By DON AINES |

Hancock residents will likely not see increases in taxes and fees in 2011, but Mayor Daniel Murphy said Wednesday night that the town will have to do more with less because of less federal and state funding.

"There's no secret about the economic plight of the state of Maryland," Murphy said in his annual State of the Town address.

The state of Hancock's finances, however, is healthy, he said.

"We are not in the black, and we are not looking at layoffs," Murphy said during the monthly meeting of the mayor and town council.

Part of that he credited to the town having built up reserves for its water and sewer departments over a period of several years.

Hancock has a general fund of $1,076,024 this year, Town Manager David Smith said.

Murphy said the state has to remove the regulatory obstacles to local government operations and business creation, and Washington County has to streamline its permitting process.

The state is "putting requirements on that are not realistic and absurd," Murphy said.

Over the years state agencies have lost documents, imposed "busy work assignments" and required retroactive revisions to paperwork submitted years earlier, he said.

Despite the town's own economic struggles, the mayor said about a dozen small businesses opened in the past year.

The town will also aggressively market the Stanley Fulton Business Complex, a former manufacturing facility for travel trailers, he said.

Hancock has to rely more on its own resources to accomplish its goals through partnerships and volunteer efforts, Murphy said.

A grant for the town's visitors center did not materialize, but the project went forward without it, he said.

"We don't look like a town that's given up," Murphy said.

The planning commission is also looking into landlord- tenant issues, examining other municipalities' policies to ensure that renters have safe housing while the rights of landlords are protected, Murphy said.

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