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$3 million budget package approved

(6/5) The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved a $3,145,069 budget package for 2013 at their June 4 meeting, culminating their struggle to make ends meet without necessitating a local tax increase.

Specifically, the package consisted of  $1,591, 938 for the general fund budget, $210,000 for the capital improvements (CIP) budget, $545,800 for the water enterprise fund budget, and $797,336 for the sewer enterprise fund budget.

The commissioners previously adopted the 2013 real estate tax rate at their May 21 meeting, electing to maintain the current rate of  0.36 cents per $100 worth of real estate.

The board and town staff came into the budgetary process knowing that the municipality faced a reduction in property tax revenue in 2013 due to the reduced value of real estate within the community as the result of a recent reassessment.

The state recommended that the town adopt a tax rate of 0.4265 cents per $100 of assessed real estate value to maintain the existing level of revenue generated by property tax collection.

However, in the end, the board elected to avert a tax rate increase and instead voted to implement administrative cuts to address the money shortage.

Administrative budget cuts included line items affecting a variety of activities ranging from routine vehicle maintenance to attending conferences and training.

No direct cuts to any services to the public or staff cuts were approved or implemented in the budget adoption process.

Town staff also found an additional $29,000 at the "eleventh hour" which was dispersed at the June 4 meeting in such a manner that allowed some of the previously approved cuts to be negated.

The $29,000 gained for budget use was the result of a miscalculation of pension costs.  Approximately $10,000 of this was redistributed to the water and sewer enterprise funds, and the remainder to replace previously proposed cuts to park and recreation funds, Town Square improvement funding, travel expenses for training, and conference expenses applicable to promoting the town.

The board also voted at their meeting to divert $2,000 of the $29,000 towards athletic fields and town garden improvements.

Breakdown of general fund expenditures as anticipated for 2013 include:

  • $101,413 for legislative and executive expenses (up slightly from $99,653 allocated last year);

  • $150,127 for planning and zoning (a slight increase over $146,511 allocated last year);

  • $124,765 for financial administration (a decrease over the $146,511 allocated last year);

  • $127,276 for buildings (a slight increase over last year’s $123,097);

  • $242,548 for public safety, police (a decrease over the amount of $298,878 for 2012);

  • $6,000 for fire and rescue (unchanged);

  • $6,899 for other public safety uses (down from $11,483 allocated in 2012);

  • $294,224 for streets (up from $269,196 in 2012);

  • $171,096 for refuse (up slightly from the $169,888 allocated last year);

  • $172,393 for parks and recreation (down from last year’s allocated amount of $178,524);

  • $47,197 for debt services (slightly down from last year’s $48,727; and

  • $148,000 for interfund transfers (up from $58,642).

Interfund transfers represents money being transferred from general fund to the CIP for CIP projects.

The CIP budget of $210,000 entails proposed 2013 projects involving street paving and resurfacing, storm water system mapping, pool improvements, and vehicle and equipment replacement and repairs, as well as an $11,000 contribution to the county toward the county-wide communications system.

The water enterprise fund was increased by about $9,000 over 2012, while the sewer enterprise fund jumped approximately $37,000.

Subsequent to the meeting, Board President Christopher V. Stagier said, "Government spending has a tendency to grow and fill any vacuum."

"After requesting a budget proposal from the mayor and staff based on the higher tax rate recommended by the state, the board was able to trim the excess, avoid the tax rate increase, and still expand our allocations toward infrastructure improvement," he stated.

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