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From the Desk of
Town Commissioner Chris Staiger

(6/2012) I hope everyone has been enjoying our spring! The annual carnival at Mother Seton School in May and the upcoming Community Day and fireworks on June 30 offer the chance to get out and about with your neighbors. The Town pool will be opening in mid-June, and, of course, our improved municipal parks are ready for you! Take advantage of these many opportunities to enjoy our great town!

Retired local veterinarian and former mayor, Dr. William Carr passed away in late May at the age of 84. While details of his life and accomplishments are covered elsewhere in this publication, it is worth remembering the tremendous influence Dr. Carr had in shaping the community around us. The forces he released and directed through annexation and the promotion of residential development throughout his decade in power continued after his departure from town government in 2002 and are still being dealt with today.

On May 7, Frank Davis, President of the Vigilant Hose Company, spoke to the Town Council regarding the County Commissioners’ proposal for a County-wide Fire Chief. Mr. Davis spoke in favor of this proposal, and although a majority of volunteer companies voted against it, he wanted to present his organization’s thoughts on the ‘facts versus the opinions’ of the debate. While a county-wide fire chief would in some ways more centralize control, the benefits in planning, standardization, consistency, and oversight would help counteract the stresses resulting from our growing demand for services. The Frederick County Commissioners have yet to make a final decision.

Also on May 7, the town Board of Commissioners approved the application for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) in the amount of $100,000 meant to support the Homes for America senior housing project at the Provincial House. This worthwhile project will give new life to underutilized areas of the massive building, bring some property onto municipal tax rolls, and provide additional housing opportunities for the Daughters of Charity as well as our larger senior community.

As discussed last month in this space, April, May, and June typically bring consideration of the next financial year’s budget (set to begin in July). Annual budgets have declined every year from July 2009 through June 2012 – dropping $200,000 or 11.7% from a high of $1.7 million in 2008. Over this period, we have substantially reduced costs and elected to use our "rainy day" fund if major expenditures were required.

The original budget presented at the May 7 meeting planned to raise the tax rate from $0.36 to $0.4265 per $100 of assessed value while increasing overall spending back to 2008 levels. On May 21, the Board of Commissioners made funding modifications and reductions that allow us to maintain our tax rate while still adequately supporting the current and future needs of our community. The $0.36 rate was officially adopted for the upcoming budget year on May 21, and the Board will continue to finalize the budget over the next couple of meetings. This revised budget is still slightly higher than last year due to funding increases in other areas such as payments from the county government to cover shared services.

Also on May 21, the Board considered a proposal from the Mayor and town staff to re-finance our existing loan funding the town’s portion of the new wastewater treatment plant’s construction costs. Refinancing could save $80,000 to $100,000 over the remainder of the construction period. Staff was instructed to proceed with the effort and we hope to have a new loan in place by July that will cover our needs for the last two years of the project.

Finally, additional ordinance changes were made in May that will 1) make it easier for some residents with smaller lots to build garages or install carports, and, 2) may allow Village Zone based businesses to expand their opportunities. These changes were both in response to concerns raised in the community. Please continue to contact us if you have ideas to make our town a better place to live and work!

As always, I encourage your participation and feedback to your elected officials! Sincerely, Chris Staiger

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