Elk­ton re­views re­quests ahead of mayor’s bud­get

Tax hike un­likely, ac­cord­ing to pro­jec­tions

Cecil Whig - - & - By BRI­ANNA SHEA

bshea@ ce­cil­whig. com

— While the mayor and com­mis­sion­ers con­tinue re­view­ing pre­lim­i­nary de­part­men­tal bud­get re­quests, new rev­enue pro­jec­tions in­di­cate that a tax in­crease will likely not be part of next year’s bud­get.

Dur­ing the board’s April 13 work­shop, Mayor Rob Alt said the town is pro­jected to col­lect a lit­tle un­der $ 7.5 mil­lion in


prop­erty taxes this fis­cal year, which was also how much of­fi­cials orig­i­nally planned to bud­get for next year. He said he wanted to be more cau­tious with the fis­cal year 2017 bud­get, how­ever, as the town orig­i­nally pro­jected to bring in only $ 7.1 mil­lion this year, but is pro­jected to ex­ceed ex­pec­ta­tions.

Af­ter the meet­ing, town fi­nance di­rec­tor Steve Re­pole said the town’s prop­erty tax is ex­pected to re­main un­changed at 0.5856 cents per $ 100 of as­sessed value.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the plan­ning, build­ing and zon­ing, fi­nance and ad- min­is­tra­tive de­part­ments also pre­sented their bud­get pro­pos­als to the board at their April 13 work­shop. None of those de­part­ments re­quested new per­son­nel or high- value items.

In the hu­man re­sources de­part­ment, of­fi­cials re­quested a part- time clerk, who would work no more than 20 hours a week for six to 12 months, to help with record keep­ing.

The board pre­vi­ously heard from the de­part­ment of pub­lic works in Jan­uary, when of­fi­cials re­quested $ 89,000 in cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­tures, in­clud­ing a util­ity task ve­hi­cle — com­monly re­ferred to as a Ga­tor — three zero- turn lawn­mow­ers and shop equip­ment, as well as four ad­di­tional em­ploy­ees for the town’s wa­ter ser vices, two for its sewer ser vices and one for its side­walk re­pair crew.

Alt pro­posed to de­crease the Elk­ton Cham­ber and Al­liance’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment fund from $ 100,000 to $ 25,000, not­ing that only $ 15,000 out of the al­lot­ted amount has been used so far this year. The eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment ac­count pro­vides for events, such as Busi­ness Ap­pre­ci­a­tion Day when town busi­nesses are rec- og­nized. Any of the money left in that fund at the end of this fis­cal year would be re­turned to the town’s gen­eral fund for fur­ther use, Alt said.

That fund be­came con­tro­ver­sial late last year, how­ever, when it was uti­lized to tem­po­rar­ily rent a build­ing on West Main Street in or­der to keep it va­cant. The funds were dis­persed with­out the en­tire board’s knowl­edge, and be­cause the space’s rental was to en­sure a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion did not en­ter the build­ing due to the de­sire of the Al­liance and Mayor Rob Alt to fill it with a re­tail busi­ness.

Re­pole said a to­tal amount for the bud­get has not been es­tab­lished yet, but Alt and fi­nance de­part­ment staff will meet soon to de­velop a fi­nal pro­posal to be for­warded to the town board of com­mis­sion­ers in May. Com­mis­sion­ers will then be able to make cuts to the bud­get, but not add new ex­penses.

His­tor­i­cally, the board of com­mis­sion­ers — in­clud­ing any new com­mis­sion­ers elected in the May 24 elec­tion — will con­sider the fi­nal bud­get at a June meet­ing. The fis­cal year 2017 bud­get goes into ef­fect on July 1.

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