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Monthly Town Meeting - July 2000

State of the Town

By William Carr, Mayor

This report and the 2000-2001 budget are hereby presented to the citizens and the Town Council of Emmitsburg as required by the Charter and Municipal Code of Emmitsburg.

The audit of the Town’s finances for the preceding fiscal year 1998-1999 was performed by Linton, Shafer and Company of Frederick, Maryland, and approved by State auditors in January of this year.

The 1999-2000 budget was adhered to and followed as mandated. Transfers within the budget were done in the proper manner. Some factors not apparent during the budget preparation allowed for financial considerations that were positive for the Town. The major positive factor being a release of grant monies that allowed for payment of expenses that had previously been paid out of the Town’s general fund. A major portion of these funds were used to reduce the Town’s burdened debt. A second important step was taken in February when the Town refinanced existing bonds with a commercial lender to a "governmental lending agency" at a reduced interest rate, and therefore a long-term reduced cost.

Generally, through the efforts of good management, we made every effort to cut costs whereever possible. A mild winter helped, past and continued good maintenance practices helped, careful supply spending helped and, most importantly, we are blessed with a great, caring staff that do their jobs well. The results are shown in a budget surplus for this last budget year, a first in many years.

Meeting rising infrastructure costs is a never-ending challenge to all of us, in the Council, in management and in the work force. The Town’s tax base continues not to grow in any great amount and we continue to meet the escalating costs with income that does not rise with costs. Growth has been slow and, while future growth is good, we have to deal with today.

Real estate taxation and utility charges are the Town’s primary and only source of income. To meet rising costs and perform needed infrastructure progress we have recommended a $0.05 raise in taxes for the coming fiscal year. This raise will establish a $0.75 tax rate per $100.00 of assessed property value for the new fiscal year 2000-2001. The Council also recommended to keep the same utility rates as the previous fiscal year.

The Water utility has continued to be operated at a high level. Though the plant is antiquated, constant supervision of operation has been carried out to provide a safe quality product. A new plant will soon allow us to do an even better job.

The Sewer utility performs well under some adverse conditions, primarily surface water getting into the system. Plans are in place to correct this problem through relining existing sewer lines.

The Streets department has maintained our streets and alleys as well as can be. The coming year will see resurfacing of the most needed areas.

Parks and Recreation have made good gains. A skateboard area was established with volunteer labor. A new softball field has been surveyed and will be in place this fall.

The after-school youth program at the Community Center is a beginning by the Town to offer structured activity for our youth. This is the first full year for this effort and we hope it will grow in popularity.

The 2000-2001 budget was prepared with the thought in mind that we want to improve each year: I believe we have. Our immediate future is very bright. Years of negotiation and planning for a new water plant have finally come to pass. Construction bids have been received and work will commence in July hoping for a December or January finish date. A large motel-restaurant complex will also break ground in the next 30 days on our eastern border. In addition, a business complex of three buildings will start sometime in September. Finally, the Town is negotiating with two residential developers that we hope will bring needed housing to our community.

The budget process is a demanding effort; it takes input from everyone and then someone to meld it all together. Our Town Manager has done that and I commend David Haller for doing a great job.

In conclusion I want to thank the entire staff for their contributions in making our community a wonderful place to live.

Streets Committee Report

The Streets and Transportation Committee report was presented by Ken Howard. He told the commissioners that the committee members continue to survey town streets for possible improvements. The committee recommended the following actions to the commissioners:

  • Eliminate one parking space on the corner of East Main Street and Federal Avenue to improve visibility from Federal Avenue onto East Main Street;
  • Make street repairs and pave North East Avenue, Chesapeake Street, St. Joseph’s Lane and Elder Lane, in that order;
  • Increase the sheriff patrol at the intersection of North Seton and DePaul Street on Thursday nights to stop illegal parking and traffic tie-ups;
  • Place "no parking" signs on both sides of Federal Avenue;
  • Remove the tree at Federal Avenue and DePaul Street ( roots are pushing up the roadway); and
  • Have parking violations enforced by the deputies as well as the town code enforcer.

Committee members are Pat Boyle, representing the town council, Ken Howard, Maria Topper and Denise Warthen. There are two vacancies on the committee. Anyone interested in serving on this committee should contact the town office.

June 5th Town Meeting

At the June 5th town meeting, the commissioners held a general discussion regarding the lack of the use of the skateboard park. The park was opened only four days in May because there was no adult supervision. Parents had agreed to do this if the town built the park but so far it is not working.

"It hasn’t panned out like we planned," said Mayor Carr. "We’ve gone the last mile; now it’s the parents’ turn."

The commissioners encouraged kids and parents who are interested in using the park to organize a schedule of volunteer supervisors. Carolyn Miller, a member of the Parks and Recreation Committee, volunteered to call parents who had expressed an interest in the past in order to organize a rotation of volunteer supervisors.

In other business, commissioners

  • Voted unanimously to increase the property tax rate 5 cents. Residents will now pay $.75 per $100 of assessed property value. This increase, the first in many years, becomes effective July 1, 2000, and will help fund a new water treatment plant;
  • Approved a $1.6 million budget for fiscal 2001.
  • Adopted an ordinance specifying that impact fees will go to capital improvements;
  • Agreed that money from the next 50 tap fees will go to offset the long-term debt; and
  • Voted 3-1 to donate $500 to the Emmitsburg Council of Churches project to resettle a Bosnian refugee family in Emmitsburg that will be coming to the community sometime in August. Commissioner Pat Boyle voted against the measure saying he felt uncomfortable voting for it after having raised the property tax.

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