At Monday’s monthly town
meeting, the mayor and board of commissioners have
approved a 20 percent property tax increase for fiscal
year 2002-03 for the second time, after the first vote
by the former mayor and board of commissioners was
voided due to problems with the original public notices.
The original notices for the
proposed six-cent tax increase were posted in the
newspaper for an April 30 special meeting, but the font
on the advertisement was too small, town manager David
Haller told the new board at Monday night's town
meeting. Though the former board approved the rate and
accompanying budget at the public meeting, the vote had
to be taken again Monday after the notices were properly
With very little discussion, the
board unanimously approved the new rate of 36 cents per
$100 of assessed property value, which represents a
six-cent or 20 percent increase from last year's tax
rate of 30 cents per $100 of assessed property value.
Newly installed commissioner Ted
Brennan said he normally would not approve a tax
increase but because the previous board had approved the
increase he agreed to vote for it. The other
The new budget includes $ 1.87
million in revenue/expenditures. Haller told the new
board that the former board voted for the increase in
order to avoid cutting back on services.
In an interview Tuesday, new
mayor Jim Hoover said the budget is going up this year
mostly because of a substantial increase in the town's
debt service and in transfers to capital improvements.
The town's bond debt is increasing from $207,887 last
year to $369,940 this year. Transfer funds to capital
improvements is increasing from $139,118 to $219,602.
Those two items together contribute $242,537 toward the
$316,387 increase in budget.
Both the debt service and the
transfer to capital improvements are the result of
numerous major capital improvements including the
construction of the new water plant which is currently
under way, park improvements such as the replacement of
the old caboose with a new concession stand/bathroom,
replacement of old water and sewer lines, and the new
office to begin construction around July or August,
Last year's budget actually
contained a decrease from $1.8 million to $1.5 million
due to a then anticipated reduction in water and sewer
fees, according to a publication on the city's web page
written by former Mayor William Carr. Because of the
change in the way the state assesses property taxes,
Carr wrote, residents' bills showed no significant
change. This year, however, residents may notice the
The new rate will become
effective July 1, 2002.
In other matters, the board
unanimously voted to increase the combined water and
sewer hook-up fees from $6,000 to $7,000. Town manager
Dave Haller said the new rate should be considered a
bargain because Middletown's rate is $3,000 more and
Brunswick's rate is $5,000 more than the $7,000 fee he
recommended to the board. The Town of Thurmont's
combined fees equal $5,000. Haller also said the
increase would make it possible for the town to finance
a new water pressure tank that would build "a great
deal of redundancy" into the water system.
Another annexation was on the
agenda Monday and this required commissioner Patrick
Boyle to recuse himself from voting. Boyle is one of the
property owners named in the annexation petition.
Ed Smariga of Buckeye
Development said he is considering purchasing about 62
acres, including Boyle's property, to be developed into
a combination of townhouses, single family homes and a
small portion of commercial use. The properties lie
along the northwest side of North Seton Avenue with the
largest parcel owned by Silver Fancy Farm, Inc.
Haller told commissioners that
state law required the commissioners to vote to accept
the petition for review but that voting to accept the
petition does not in any way mean the board is approving
the request for annexation. The board then voted 3-0-1
to accept the petition, with Boyle abstaining from the
vote. A public review by the planning commission and
ultimately the board of commissioners is required prior
to any approval.
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