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Taxes going up in Thurmont

(8/16) Thurmont residents are going to be paying about $300 more per household just to live in town.

The commissioners voted to increase tax rates beginning July 1. The property tax rate was increased from 26.5 cents to 28 cents per $100 of assessed value. The water rate increased from $4.15 to $5.15 per 1,000 gallons and the sewer rate increased from $5.95 to $7.95 per 1,000 gallons.

According to Commissioner Bill Blakeslee this means the average household in Thurmont will see their taxes increase between $250 and $300.

“You’re going to need this increase if we’re going to do what we discussed,” Mayor Martin Burns said.

The new general fund budget is $3,080,150 or a 7.4 percent increase. In part, the property tax increase is being driven by increases to the town’s insurance and county tipping fees at the landfill.

Though the town’s capital budget is larger next year because the town is taking on a $2 million debt for the new police building, there are significant decreases in Program Open Space funds and impact fees.

With only $28,500 in POS funds, the amount is only 13 percent of what the town received this year. Impact fee revenues have been reduced by 40 percent in anticipation of almost no growth in the town for next year.

The increase in sewer rates comes as the town begins paying for significant sewer improvements that can no longer be delayed because of the recent trial involving the sewer system and part of it comes in anticipation of having to pay the $3.5 million jury award from the trial.

“Based on my week and a half in court, I’m going to fund what I can fund,” Burns said.

Commissioner Ron Terpko said the trial leave the town little option. “You only have one of two options,” Terpko said. “You either raise rates to take care of this or you annex a piece of property.”

The $2 per 1,000 gallon increase in the sewer rate increases the sewer budget by 22 percent for next year. The $1 per 1,000 increase in the water rate increases the water budget by 19 percent for next year.

Residents have already seen increases of nearly 50 percent in their electric rates over the past year. However, the commissioners point out that the increases are due from increases in the cost of power and not from the town’s electric operating costs.

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