Ce­cil­ton ap­proves bud­get, adopts con­stant yield rate

Cecil Whig - - & - By JA­COB OWENS

jowens@ce­cil­whig.com

— The town coun­cil unan­i­mously ap­proved the nearly $11.2 mil­lion fis­cal year bud­get Mon­day night, which heav­ily fea­tures work on a pipeline to Ear­leville com­mu­ni­ties grap­pling with ground­wa­ter con­tam­i­na­tion.

Al­most $10 mil­lion of next year’s bud­get can be at­trib­uted to the project which looks to pro­vide a life­line to the Pearce Creek com­mu­ni­ties that have been neg­a­tively af­fected by the leach­ing of dredge spoils in lo­cal wa­ter ta­bles. That project is es­ti­mated to be com­pleted in the win­ter of 2018.

Mean­while, how­ever, the town’s op­er­at­ing bud­get has de­creased by 7.65 per­cent, or more than $34,000, as Ce­cil­ton deals with de­clin­ing prop­erty val­ues fol­low­ing last year’s tri­en­nial as­sess­ment.

CE­CIL­TON

As a re­sult of a 7.5 per­cent de­cline in to­tal prop­erty val­ues, Mayor Joe Zang pro­posed that the town adopt the con­stant yield prop­erty tax rate, which will pro­duce the same amount of rev­enue as last year. That move re­sults in a tax in­crease of 1.78 cents, mov­ing from 21.95 cents per $100 of as­sessed value to 23.73 cents.

The bud­get also boosts hourly salaries for the town’s five full-time and two part­time em­ploy­ees due to the in­creased work­load as­so­ci­ated with the Pearce Creek project. While the town did not ap­prove a blan­ket in­crease for em­ploy­ees, to­tal salary spend­ing in­creased about 4 per­cent with much of that ex­pense com­ing from funds as­so­ci­ated with the wa­ter­line project.

“Our em­ploy­ees will be faced with an in­creas­ing work­load of ad­min­is­tra­tive tasks as we keep on track to ex­tend wa­ter ser­vice to the Pearce Creek com­mu­ni­ties,” Zang said. “I’ve al­ways felt that we need to com­pen­sate our em­ploy­ees fairly, and it’s some­thing I strive to do.”

Else­where in the bud­get, the town is fi­nally re­ceiv­ing a $37,500 Maryland En­ergy Ad­min­is­tra­tion grant it ap­plied for in 2014 that will help to up­grade light­ing in the Frisby Mead­ows neigh­bor­hood and bet­ter in­su­late and light the town’s wa­ter and waste­water treat­ment plants, and main­te­nance build­ing. Mov­ing to such en­ergy-ef­fi­cient stan­dards will also help to de­crease fu­ture util­ity costs, of­fi­cials noted.

Fi­nally, town res­i­dents will see a 2 per­cent in­crease in their util­ity bills start­ing next quar­ter as they have seen in at least each of the past six years to keep up with main­te­nance costs. The us­age rate for wa­ter and sewer will in­crease per quar­ter to a base (5,000 gal­lons) of $135.11 and $20.23 per unit (1,000 gal­lons). Mean­while, the town hookup for wa­ter ser­vice also in­creased to $6,568.89 while sewer ser­vice hookup in­creased to $10,516.53.

But Zang said he be­lieves that the town’s new­est cus­tomers, such as the Park­lands at Ce­cil­ton com­plex and the Dol­lar Gen­eral, and the fu­ture Pearce Creek wa­ter cus­tomers may give all users a re­prieve for sev­eral years start­ing as soon as next fis­cal year.

“I think this may be the last 2 per­cent in­crease we’ll need for three to five years,” he said. “We needed these in­creases be­cause we had no growth, while main­te­nance and operation costs con­tinue to in­crease. But with 230 new cus­tomers com­ing (from Pearce Creek), in my mind it’s enough time to ad­dress our needs. It’s a bur­den on the res­i­dents of the town.”

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