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Hagerstown City Council approves budget with no change in tax rates

May 22, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown City Council Tuesday passed a pair of ordinances setting the tax rate and approving a proposed city budget for fiscal 2012-13.

The five-member council voted 3-0 in favor of both, with Councilman Forrest Easton and Councilwoman Ashley Haywood both absent.

The city’s tax rate will remain steady at $0.788 per $100 of assessed value for residential properties, and $1.97 per $100 of assessed value on business personal properties.

“We are trying to find a balance between service delivery to the citizens and a tax rate that we can sustain,” Councilman Martin Brubaker said. “I can vote for this with pride, and I hope we can bring the city’s tax base up in the future, which is what we’ve all been working on.”

The budgeted amount in the city’s general fund, which is supported by tax dollars, was reduced slightly — by about $6,000 — since a public hearing a week ago, totaling  $36.65 million.

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Total operating expenses come out to around $128.5 million, including utility funds, which are supported by citizen payments outside of tax dollars, Community Development Block Grant funds and Capital Improvement Project funds.

Costs for water and sewer are expected to increase again in the next fiscal year.

The increases are due to a five-year scheduled increase to fund needed improvements in both systems, officials have said. Electric costs will remain the same.

Prior to the vote on the budget, Brubaker noted that the current council has been able to lower general fund expenses over the past few years to keep up with decreased revenues due to a slowing economy.

“The staff has done a good job over the last three or four years,” he said. “I think that we’re going in a good direction. I hope we can pull out of these economic times that we’ve had, and I think the city can move forward if we do.”

The new fiscal year begins July 1.

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