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Funkstown budget includes increase in property tax and water rates

May 21, 2012|By DAVE MCMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com

Funkstown Town Council members unanimously passed a 2012-13 budget Monday night that includes a 4-cent property tax rate hike, a 10 percent water rate increase and a temporary utility recovery fee that charges each household account $25 per quarter for six quarters.

For a house assessed at $100,000, the 4-cent property tax hike will increase that person’s annual tax bill by about $40, Mayor Paul N. Crampton Jr. said.

“It’s very, very minor,” said Crampton, responding to questions about the tax increase from one town resident who attended two public hearings on the tax hike, temporary utility recovery fee and water rate hike, and a special council meeting on budget issues at town hall.

Crampton said previously that the 4-cent tax hike would help the town with increasing costs such as health care and workers’ compensation insurance.

The 10 percent water rate increase is intended to 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 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 is intended to cover increasing costs for Funkstown such as chemicals for the wastewater treatment plant, town officials have said.

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

For in-town water customers who use up to 6,000 gallons of water per quarter, the new water rate will be $41.23 per quarter. For water use above 6,000 gallons, it will 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 new rate will be $55.06 per quarter. For water use above 6,000 gallons, the additional cost will be $7.24 per 1,000 gallons of water over 6,000 gallons.

The temporary utility recovery fee is intended to help recover the cost of more than $70,000 in water main breaks this past year, officials have said.

An individual household account will pay $150, or $25 per quarter for six quarters. A rental unit account will pay $150 plus $25 per unit. A unit could be an apartment or trailer, Haynes said.

A commercial unit account will pay $150 plus $25 for every 1,000 gallons of water used over 6,000 gallons per quarter, according to a handout. A small business that uses less than 6,000 gallons of water per quarter will pay only the flat $150 fee, Haynes said.

Jim Gonder of 14 E. Poplar St., the one resident who attended Monday’s meeting, asked Crampton about specifics of the recovery fee.

“Do you see that as becoming permanent?” Gonder asked.

“I don’t,” Crampton said.

The new 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.

The town has sheriff’s deputy services and there has been discussion recently about whether the services are worth the expense to the town. Council member Luke Barnette asked Monday if council members wanted to do anything different with the services.

“I could go either way on it actually,” Barnette said.

The approved budget still contains $10,800 for deputy services, although Assistant Mayor Sharon Chirgott said council members could re-examine the expense later in the year.

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