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Thurmont to approve budget

Jeremy Hauck

(5/31) Thurmont commissioners are set to adopt the town’s $3 million operating budget for fiscal 2008 on Tuesday, as well as $2 million to build a police station.

The proposed operating budget is 7 percent higher than the current budget. It includes a surplus of more than $100,000; the current budget had a surplus of $40,000.

Commissioners on May 22 approved a property tax rate of 28 cents per $100 of assessed value, an increase from the current rate of 26.5 cents.

The state-set constant yield rate — the property tax rate that, when applied to new assessments, results in the town receiving the same revenue in the coming tax year that was received in the current tax year — is 24.5 cents, according to Rick May, the town’s chief financial officer.

At the public hearing on the tax rate, Thurmont Mayor Martin A. Burns cited increases in insurance costs, waste disposal fees, fuel prices, and a recent court decision that ordered the town to pay $3.4 million to residents whose homes were flooded with sewage in 2003, in his support for the tax and budget increase.

Burns also said he wants to give more support to the town’s volunteer fire company, Guardian Hose Company No. 10. ‘‘I want to give more money to that fire company, because they’re saving our butts," he said. ‘‘And with the lawsuits ... $40,000 doesn’t cut it. I support a 28-cent tax rate."

The town is allocating $10,000 to the fire company, and $10,000 to Thurmont Community Ambulance Service No. 30.

Commissioners Wayne Hooper and Ronald Terpko supported the increase. ‘‘We all, sitting here, have to pay the same rate," Hooper said. ‘‘Nothing’s getting cheaper."

The three biggest expense categories in the operating budget are $1.4 million for general government (such as health care and retirement benefits for employees, salaries and legal fees), $691,000 for the police department (mostly salaries for its 12 officers and staff members), and $390,000 for public garbage pickup and disposal.

In addition, the budget has nearly $110,000 for parks and recreation programs. An additional $38,000 is set aside for parks in the construction budget, $30,000 of which is allocated to bridges on a one-mile trolley trail that will lead from Memorial Park on Main Street to the site of a new public library on Moser Road.

The town plans to borrow $2 million to build a station at East Main Street and Westview Drive for the Thurmont Police Department. The one-story, 11,000-square-foot building will be nearly 20 times larger than the police department’s current offices at 10 Frederick Road.

More than $110,000 is budgeted for furniture and equipment for the new building. The town is spending more than $130,000 on new vehicles and vehicle equipment, while budgeting nearly $7,000 for new weapons.

In all, the town is set to increase its spending on capital improvements by more than $1.8 million in the coming year.

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