department heads have asked the board of
commissioners to fund capital projects over
the next two budgets at levels that are more
than 55 percent higher than the current
Tuesday's presentation of capital-spending plans
launched the annual bud-get process, and it's doubtful each requested
expenditure will be approved. However, it's evident that the commissioners must
spend significantly more over the next two years than they have in the past.
The department supervisors' preliminary wish lists for
the 2004-05 budget cycle totaled more than $2.22 million, and the2005-06
requests add up to more than $2.2 million. Thurmont budgeted slightly more than
$1.39 million for capital projects this fiscal year, which ends June 30.
The department heads were told to approach the
capital-improvement budget process differently this year.
Mayor Martin Burns recently said the town may have
trimmed capital spending too much in previous years. He said department
managers should make strong cases for items they really need and put the onus
on the board to find a way to pay for it. That message came with a warning to
residents that rates and fees likely will have to be increased to accommodate
This also is the first time the town has studied
capital-spending needs for two years instead of just the coming fiscal year.
Though the initial requests representincreases of
roughly 60 percent and 58 per-cent, respectively, for the two budget years,
there costly additions may be coming. The scope of work needed on the Moser
Road bridge has not been determined, so that potentially costly item wasn't
included for either year.
The budget is as conflicted as the board on the status
of a new town office. The previous board discussed spending $4 million on the
project, but it delayed a decision because of public outcry over the price tag.
The new board has not tackled the issue.
One department head listed $100,000 in escrow payments
each fiscal, year for his department's share of the office-construction cost.
Others didn't include the line item or left question marks in the cost spaces.
While some of the spending will be whittied down, it's
highly doubtful the board can get anywhere near the level of spending it set
for this year.
Sewer-system rehabilitation is budgeted for more than
$1.26 million in both years, about 90 percent of the amount budgeted for all
projects this year, and the commissioners have said they intend to fully fund
needed repairs to the troubled system. However, preliminary estimates place
repair costs at about $1.06 million, so its unclear whether the full amount
will be needed each year.
Early in the meeting, Mr. Burns read a letter from Ron
Morris of Dan Ryan Builders regarding drainage problems at some lots in
Pleasant Acres subdivision. The note said the company intends to h
a drainage system installed and operating by May 15,
sooner if the weather allows it.
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