Advertisement

Funkstown changes to sewage services operators will save town money

July 11, 2013|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com

FUNKSTOWN, Md — Funkstown will save $31,462 during this fiscal year after switching from an independent state agency to two different operators to provide sewage services, according to town officials and budget documents.

Maryland Environmental Service, which has operated the town’s sewer plant off Lagoon Road since it went into operation six years ago, was planning to charge the town $96,462 for sewer services this fiscal year, Town Clerk/Treasurer Brenda Haynes said.

Instead, the town has contracted with a private operator, Greg Smith, to operate the sewer plant for $55,000, according to Haynes and the town’s enterprise funds budget.

The town will also pay the Washington County Division of Environmental Management $10,000 this year to haul and process sludge from the plant, something MES used to do, Haynes said.

MES did a great job, but town officials didn’t want to raise taxes any more than they had to, Mayor Paul N. Crampton Jr. said.

The budget the Funkstown Town Council approved in June raised the property tax rate from 32 cents per $100 of assessed value to 35 cents per $100 of assessed value.

Although the tax rate went up, property assessments have been low, so residents should not see a change in their tax bills due to the hike, town officials said.

The tax increase is meant to maintain the “constant yield” — or hold the revenue from the tax constant — from the past fiscal year, Haynes has said.

The new budgets, and the contract with Smith, kicked in on July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

Smith, who operates Brunswick, Md.’s water and sewer plants, used to work for Washington County’s wastewater department in the 1980s, Haynes said.

Smith also will be responsible for testing the town’s drinking water twice a month, as well as performing quarterly tests, she said.

Maryland Environmental Service used to do the tests.

The $326,460 general fund budget for this fiscal year is $10,416 less than last year’s budget, according to town documents.

Haynes said the town budgeted less for income-tax revenue — $43,350 compared to $60,000 in the last fiscal year — because many people are out of work, having been laid off during the down economy. In the last fiscal year, income-tax revenue was approximately $40,000, she said.

The town also budgeted $300 for an election next May.

Although the budgeted amount for general insurance and workers compensation increased $950, town officials reduced the budget for medical insurance to $4,700, because they overbudgeted that expense last year, according to Haynes and the general fund budget.

The town is projected to have a $79,375 surplus for this fiscal year.

The town also passed along a 6.5 percent water rate increase it received from the city of Hagerstown as part of Hagerstown’s five-year plan to raise wholesale water rates to towns due to inflation, operating costs and capital projects.

Advertisement
The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|