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Town seeks more capital funding

Vic Bradshaw
Frederick News Post

The town's 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 fiscal year.

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 extra spending.

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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