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Thurmont passes town budget

Stephanie Mlot
News-Post Staff

(6/23) In a 4-1 vote, Thurmont 's Board of Commissioners passed the fiscal 2011 budget Monday night.

Settling on the financial plan first introduced in April, the budget's operating revenues totaled $13.183 million, compared with $12.916 in operating expenses, leaving a $267,786 surplus.

The budget will take effect July 1.

The adoption of new water and sewer user rates helped the town reach an excess of $90,597 in its sewer utility budget.

Beginning July 1, the town will charge $5.65 per 1,000 gallons for water usage, a 50-cent increase; sewer rates will be $8.95 per 1,000 gallons, a $1 increase.

The increased charges do not signify the proposed sewer surcharge the board is discussing, but are rather a part of the regular bill.

Commissioner Bob Lookingbill voted against the budget because it failed to add a 2 percent pay increase for the town staff.

The bonus would help make up for last year's lack of increased cost of living, equating to 1 percent for 2010 and 1 percent in 2011, Lookingbill told the board.

"I know the economy is hard on everybody," he said. "I feel our employees deserve something, even though that's not a lot -- something to let them know we appreciate the job they're doing."

The percentage would cost about $20,000, and would be appropriated from the fire and ambulance companies' $25,000 contributions in the budget.

"I would hate to see the contributions being cut to fund this," Commissioner Ron Terpko said.

He suggested rethinking the 2 percent idea halfway through the year, when officials can determine if there is added money to use for the fund.

"The town staff works very hard," Terpko said.

Commissioner Glenn Muth agreed, saying he hopes that halfway through the year, the board would be in the position to offer the pay increase.

In opposition, Mayor Marty Burns said the board is being cautious and conservative.

"When times are good, we take care of our employees," he said. "When times are bad, they take one for all of us."

Burns said he did not want to discuss revisiting the idea in six months, because he "didn't want to give employees false hope."

The motion failed 4-1; Lookingbill voted for it.

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