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Funkstown budget proposal includes tax, fee increases

April 09, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com

FUNKSTOWN — Saying it’s been a difficult year for Funkstown financially, Town Clerk/Treasurer Brenda Haynes presented a proposed budget Monday night that included a 4-cent property tax rate increase, a 10 percent water rate increase and a temporary utility recovery fee of $150 per water account.

The mayor and Town Council will review Haynes’ proposed budget during a 6 p.m. workshop Monday at Town Hall.

The proposed general fund budget calls for $336,876 in revenue, $253,115 in expenditures and a surplus of $83,761 for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Water main breaks this fiscal year have put the town $70,000 behind, practically wiping out the $74,000 general fund surplus that was expected for the current fiscal year, Haynes said.

Haynes said money was transferred from the general fund to the town’s enterprise water fund to cover the unexpected water main costs and the town needs to pay back that money to the general fund.

To raise the $70,000 for the general fund, Haynes proposed a temporary utility recovery fee of $150 per water account. Residents would pay $25 per quarter for six quarters and then the fee would disappear, she said.

Town Councilman Kim Ramer said setting the fee per account would be unfair to homeowners and that it should be set per unit to account for rental units.

Haynes will figure out the fee per unit and present that information during Monday’s budget workshop.

The proposed 10 percent water rate increase would cover a 6.5 percent increase the City of Hagerstown is imposing on Funkstown as part of a five-year plan to raise wholesale water rates to towns like Funkstown as Hagerstown looks to cover general inflation, operating costs and several major projects for its water system.

The remaining portion of the water rate increase Haynes proposed is to cover increasing costs for Funkstown such as chemicals for the wastewater treatment plant, town officials said.

The contract for the Maryland Environmental Service to operate the plant also is going up by $3,904, Haynes said.

For in-town water customers who use up to 6,000 gallons of water per quarter, the proposed water rate would be $41.23 per quarter, Haynes said Monday afternoon. For water use above 6,000 gallons, it would cost $41.23 per quarter plus $5.41 per 1,000 gallons of water over 6,000 gallons.

For out-of-town water customers who use up to 6,000 gallons of water per quarter, the proposed rate would be $55.06 per quarter, Haynes said. For water use above 6,000 gallons, the additional cost would be $7.24 per 1,000 gallons of water over 6,000 gallons.

The proposed budget does not call for a sewer rate increase. Under the town’s sewer rate formula, a water rate increase would not affect the sewer rate, Haynes said.

The proposed 4-cent hike to the property tax rate would help with increasing costs such as health care and worker’s compensation insurance, Mayor Paul N. Crampton Jr. said after the meeting.

The town’s current property tax rate is 28 cents per $100 of assessed value, a rate that was increased by 6 cents in June 2010 after town officials had not raised the property tax rate in 21 years.

In addition to Monday’s budget workshop, at which town officials might change the proposed budget, a public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for the 7 p.m. mayor and council meeting May 14 at Town Hall, Haynes said. The council would vote whether to adopt the budget at a 6 p.m. meeting May 21.

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