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From the Desk of Town Commissioner
 Patrick Joy

(5/2013) I know what you are thinking "Where is Chris Staigerís column?" Well, because of family commitments, he asked me to report on the governmentís going-ons. Donít worry he will be back next month. April was uneventful for the Town government. It is always a little slow as we get ready to receive the Mayorís budget proposal in May. At our first April meeting, we had a single agenda item. This was a proposal to raise our water rates. For almost a decade, our water fund has run a deficit. In order to make the fund whole, the Town needs to increase the annual amount collected by just under a $100,000 per year. Those users that have minimal usage (approximately 60%) will not see any increase. The next tier of users which represent 30% of our users will see an increase about $10 per quarter. The majority of the increase will be placed on the heavy water users since a large amount of the fixed costs to run the water plant is incurred to satisfy those users. The public hearing on the water rate increases will be at the May 6th meeting.

The second meeting saw a new pool contract adopted (YES! the kiddie pool area will be open this year with a new splash park) and the review of a second draft of a proposal to allow hens within the town limits. The hen ordinance is proceeding slowly. The debate is between how much Town staff involvement should be involved or should we treat hens like we do dogs, cats and rabbits. I personally prefer Town staff to spend their time on finding grants, keeping our parks clean and ensuring our water and sewer facilities function properly. I also introduced two proposals regarding the budget. One will allow greater flexibility for the Mayor on approved budgets and the second gives the Town Council greater visibility on how Town funds are spent. Transparency on how our tax dollars are spent is a priority of mine. Complacency and lack a visibility is how cities in California spent themselves into a hole. Our May meetings will primarily be on the next fiscal year budget. Last year we were able to find budget savings and keep the tax rate unchanged. I do not expect us to increase spending or taxes again this year. Citizen input is helpful as we decide spending priorities and I encourage everyone to attend or watch our meetings and let your elected officials know your opinions.

We will also be spending some time on the plans for the Town Square. The Town Council needs to approve the design features proposed. For example, do we want a fountain and a clock? If we do want those features, the Town Council will need to decide on what corners they will go. Whatever corner gets the fountain will lose a parking space. We will also be hearing from the Town Planner on the status of the negotiations with State Highway on the proposed design. I also hope as part of the budget discussion, the Mayor and Town staff come forward with possible grants to fund the Town square design. Additionally, as part of the Capital Improvement Project budget, the Mayor will be putting forth his timeline for development of the square.

Elsewhere in Emmitsburg, major activities are taking place. April saw the Seton Centerís "Passport to Wealth" program. You may have seen green dollar signs around Town. This was all part of giving awareness to this important program. Sister Salvatrice oversaw numerous events throughout Emmitsburg and Thurmont to promote proper budgeting and spending for adults, teens and children. I was lucky enough to attend a few and take part as a panel member on "Biblically Principles of Money Management". Hint: read the Book of Proverbs.

Planning for Emmitsburg Community Heritage Days (formally called Community day) is in full swing for June 28th through the 30th. The Lionís Club is bringing various community organizations together to make this a grand weekend. Activities are planned throughout Community Park and at the Seton Shrine including vendors, a car show, a bike ride, horseshoe contest and an all-star baseball game. Community wide yard sales are also planned and registration forms were included in the last water/sewer bill. The National Fallen Firefighter Memorial will be open and the Knights of Columbus will be sponsoring music from 11am until the fireworks at 9:30pm. The theme for this Heritage Weekend is "Where the Past meets the Future". The Emmitsburg Area Historical Society will be conducting walking tours throughout the day describing the 150th anniversary of the great Emmitsburg fire which burned the east end of town. Kid games, the parade, food and VHC Auxiliary breakfast will take place as usual. The event Brochure will be available in May. Volunteers are needed since we are expecting an influx of visitors due to the events for the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. If you are interested in taking part or volunteering, please email eburgheritagedays@gmail.com.

The Lionís club will be holding a car wash and barbeque to benefit in order to raise money for various activities. And the Knights of Columbus will be sponsoring the St. Josephís Church Golf Outing on June 22nd. Please support these events as the money is put right back into the community. I also want to thank the Knights of Columbus Brutť Council for the Emmitsburg Annual Easter Egg Hunt in Community Park. We are blessed to have so many civic minded organizations and individuals in our Town.

Read other articles by Chris Staiger