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Slowing growth may affect budget

(4/19) Thurmont is seeing a slow down in new housing construction that could reduce its revenues by more than $126,000.

A look at housing permits issued by the Town of Thurmont over the last three years shows that this fiscal year housing permits may only be a fraction of what they were projected to be in the budget.

The town’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2005, 29 permits were issued. The following year 34 permits were issued. As of February, only 10 had been issued for this fiscal year.

“And we’ve only got five houses left in the pipeline,” Burns said.

This means the town is not likely to see more than 15 houses get permits this fiscal year.

However, since the town introduced impact fees to help pay for capital projects for roads, sewer, water and parks that are created by growth, Mayor Martin Burns has estimated fees for 25 houses in his budgets. These impact fees means the town receives $12,660 for each house built.

A shortfall of 10 houses below the estimate could mean the town will see a shortfall of $126,600 that was planned on when money was allocated in the budget.

“We don’t know how it will affect the budget yet,” Burns said. “We have to see how the other revenues come in.”

His hope is that other revenue streams, such as property taxes come in higher than expected. This would help make up any shortfall in the impact fee revenues.

“Also, since we did increase the fees, we can do with a little less and still have the same result,” Burns said.

He does acknowledge that the shortfall could impact the $1.8 million capital budget. He is hopeful that since the budget was “conservative,” any such impact will be minimal.

For future budgets, Burns said he is budgeting for only 15 houses a year being built in town. Even this could be higher than actual construction if the town has to rely on only infill construction. The town’s planning and zoning commission, in its growth discussions over the past year, only ever planned for 10 infill house projects a year.

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