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Proposed Hagerstown 2012 budget includes no tax hikes or service cuts

The city administrator focused heavily on reducing expenditures while maintaining city services

April 05, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com

The city of Hagerstown will likely not raise property taxes or cut city services to balance its fiscal 2012 budget.

City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman Tuesday presented his proposed budget for the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1, to the city council.

 His proposal did not include recouping projected losses by raising taxes, nor did it reflect any reduction in city services.

The city's property tax rate is 78.8 cents for every $100 of assessed value, according to city documents.

To accommodate what was a projected $4 million shortfall, Zimmerman focused heavily on reducing expenditures while maintaining city services, he said.

General-fund revenue for fiscal 2012 was projected to be $36,373,384, according to city budget documents.

Two years ago, officials projected that the coming year's revenue would be about $8.5 million more than what Zimmerman presented Tuesday, he said.

A combination of cuts in federal, state and county revenue, and lower recent property reassessments have sharply reduced projections for the coming fiscal year.

Hagerstown estimated it will lose $4.4 million again in fiscal 2012 due to state and county funding cuts.

The 2010 triennial reassessments of real estate were projected to cost the city an additional $3.1 million in lost revenue, he said.

The city could add $720,000 of general-fund revenue if the council follows a recommendation in the proposed budget to increase quarterly refuse fees by $12.50.   

While revenue is down, projected general-fund expenditures also dropped to $36,359,736, which is more than $1.2 million less than what was budgeted for the current fiscal year.  

The city cut expenditures mostly through personnel adjustments. A combination of freezes and job elimination have helped the city save more than $2.5 million in salary and benefit expenditures, Zimmerman said.

Hagerstown will leave 56 positions unfunded in fiscal 2012, which includes jobs eliminated this year and unfunded vacancies, while five new positions were added, he said.

Additionally, the budget does not include employee cost-of-living adjustments for a third consecutive year and pay-step increases for a second consecutive year, he said.

The council offered few comments Tuesday.  It will begin its budget discussions in a future work session.

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