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From the Desk of
Town Commissioner Chris Staiger

(7/2013) I hope everyone is enjoying a nice transition to summer! The days are just about the longest they will be this year, so make the most of them! Many organizations throughout town worked very hard with Commissioner Cliff Sweeney to organize Community Heritage Days around the weekend of June 29th. I’m sure the event was enjoyable for residents and visitors alike. The town pool opened on June 15th with new improvements such as the long awaited splash pad which hopefully improves the day’s experience. Town pool parties and concerts in the park will continue throughout the summer season.

The Board of Commissioners’ first June meeting focused on approval of the new budget which goes into effect July 1 of this year. Town tax rates will remain the same. The ‘General Fund’ budget, which finances day to day activities of government, is largely unchanged from the previous year. Where property tax revenue declined last year due to lower assessments by the state, transfers of income from the county government have increased to fill the gap. You may even see some additional overall tax savings this year as the County Commissioners restructure the "Fire Tax" rate.

The Sewer and Water "Enterprise Funds" operate independently to cover the costs of our sewer and water infrastructure – wells, treatment plants, storage tanks, and the piping to and from your home. These operations are largely funded by your quarterly water and sewer bill. Over the last two years, fees have gone up. The increase in the sewer portion of your bill is necessary to cover the financing of the new sewer plant mandated by the State of Maryland. The increase to the water portion of your bill is necessary to make up for a loss in revenue since overall demand for water has decreased. As the largest users attempt to economize by decreasing their usage, the cost of maintaining a super-sized system that is necessary to serve them gets divided over the remaining users.

The final major portion of the budget is the "Capital Improvements Plan" or CIP. This fund maintains and distributes monies for long term projects such as road improvements or equipment replacement as well as specific targeted improvements such as the Splash Park at the pool or security cameras at town parks. Expenditures toward the town square’s redevelopment have been allocated to, and distributed from, the CIP. This budget year, the Administration has only proposed to allocate a further $10,000 to the town square project. After some questioning, the town manager was able to offer that the money would be used to cover cost overruns in the design development. The Board of Commissioners is still waiting to receive the final report from the Design Consultant hired last year.

Lastly, Commissioner Pat Joy should be applauded for writing legislation that more clearly defines controls on General Fund spending by the Administration and the management of the large sums that are maintained in the CIP. This legislation was reviewed and approved by the Board at the second June meeting. Previously, any discrepancies between budgeted and actual General Fund spending have just been resolved in one grand realignment at the end of the budget year. Now, some adjustments may still be necessary at the end of the year, but triggers are in place requiring the Administration to obtain the approval of the Board of Commissioners as soon as any variance begins to exceed five percent of the approved budget.

Finally, as always, please keep an eye out for opportunities to contribute and don’t hesitate to share your opinions with your elected officials by sending an e-mail to Sincerely, Chris Staiger

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