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Thurmont sets property tax rate at 26.5 cents

Ingrid Mezo

(5/25) Thurmont commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously to set the property tax rate for fiscal 2007 at 26.5 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

Commissioner Wayne Hooper was absent from the meeting.

The new tax rate is a half-penny less than the current rate, which is 27 cents. But the new rate is higher than constant yield, the rate that when applied to new assessments would result in the town receiving the same revenue in the coming tax year that was received in the prior tax year.

The Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation is required to certify the constant yield rate each year. Thurmont’s constant yield for fiscal 2007, which begins July 1, is 25 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

‘‘At 27 cents, we have an excess of $45,700 in the general fund budget only," Mayor Martin Burns said prior to the commission’s vote on the tax rate. ‘‘When you shift to the [construction budget], we have revenue over expenditures of $56,180."

Burns added that the town would pay more in the coming year for town staff pensions, and for proposed increases in the Thurmont Police Department salaries. The town would also pay more for new positions, including the hire of a deputy attendant to the town manager, Rick May. Burns said he hoped to create such positions for all critical town staff, in order to train people to fill positions of current employees who are approaching retirement.

The proposed fiscal 2007 budget also includes $2 million for the Thurmont Police Department building, at 6 percent interest, but Burns said he doubted that it would actually cost that much.

‘‘There’s no way it’s going to cost us $2 million," Burns said. ‘‘And there’s no way we’re paying 6 percent. We are expecting it will cost much less than that."

In addition, Commissioner Glenn Muth asked other town officials to consider placing $25,000 in the fiscal 2007 budget to fund a new video system to record town meetings.

‘‘What the dream is, is to be able to have a new projector, overhead projector, and to have a much more professional kind of deal," said Muth, who is liaison to the town’s media commission.

‘‘It will give us the ability to plug in a laptop right to system so people will be able to see Power Point presentations more clearly. ... The $5,000 we put in the budget last year ain’t near enough."

Muth said the system would be able to move along with the town office if it moves.

Commissioner Ron Terpko, liaison to the town’s recycling committee, asked the town to budget $5,000 for educational pamphlets and mailings about recycling.

Town officials said they could afford to reduce the fiscal 2007 tax rate from this year’s rate and still pay for items on the proposed budget by holding off on filling positions before July 1.

No one stood up for public comment during the public hearing prior to town officials setting the tax rate.

The town board is still hashing out a draft budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Another public hearing to discuss the preliminary budget will be held at 7 p.m., Tuesday, and town officials will vote on adopting the budget after a public hearing on June 6 in town hall, 10 Frederick Road.

Burns said he did not yet have a draft budget for the media and public to view, but was likely to have one available today or Friday.

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