(5/17) Though the draft fiscal year
2008 budget for the town of Thurmont can be
balanced without raising taxes, the
commissioners may increase the rate to try and
create a rainy day fund for the town.
Mayor Martin Burns who prepares the budget with input from
town staff worries that unforeseen costs could break the town’s budget. One
such possible budget breaker would be if the town has to bear the entire costs
of a $9 million lawsuit brought against the town by residents who had their
basements flooded with sewage in 2003.
“After being in court for the week, I do not deem it
appropriate that we cripple ourselves in how we run the town,” Burns said.
The draft budget shows just over $3 million in revenues
and just over $2.9 million in expenditures. That leaves the town with a $71,950
cushion that Burns wants to see increase to over $100,000.
To accomplish this, Burns suggested advertising the
possibility that the town was going to increase the rate to 30 cents per $100
of assessed value or a 3.5-cent increase. Advertising a possible 30 cent rate
for the public hearing does not mean the commissioners would increase the rate
to that amount, but it would serve as the maximum amount that the rate could be
raised this year. Each one cent increase in the tax rate raises an additional
$46,888 for the town.
Burns told the commissioners that the key question was,
“Do we want to go with a shoestring budget this year?”
The commissioners decided they would advertise a
possibility that the rate could be increased to 28 cents.
Though residents have seen substantial rate increases in
their electric rates this past year, the electric utility budget is just about
breaking even. The draft budget shows a $24,050 surplus in an $8.9 million
The town has a $2.4 million general operating budget that
has an $81,917 surplus projected.
The sewer and water budgets aren’t as lucky. Both budgets
show a projected deficit for next year on both the operating and capital sides.
The sewer budget shows a $46,400 deficit in part because
the town is beginning to pay on its $1.6 million loan for the first phase of
sewer repairs and Burns wants to fund the engineering for the second phase. The
capital budget shows a $1.2-million deficit. Together, it would take a $2-$3
rate increase to balance the sewer budget.
“We fund the next phase in advance now so next year when
it’s time for grants, we’re funded and ready to go,” Burns said.
The water budget projects a $67,700 deficit on the
operating side and a $317,324 deficit on the capital side. A $2.60 to $3 rate
increase would be needed to balance the water budget.
While cautioning he was not promoting large-scale growth,
Burns said, “A little bit of moderate growth brings in a tremendous amount of
revenues. … What you’re seeing (in the budget) is the negative impact of little