Council OKs $95.6 million Annapolis budget

The Annapolis city council passed Monday a $95.6 million operating budget and $10 million capital budget for next year, with a slight increase in the property tax rate and funding for projects that include a bulkhead replacement at City Dock.

Mayor Josh Cohen, a Democrat, said the budget will improve government services while limiting the impact on taxpayers.

"I think it's a good budget. I think it's a responsible budget," he said.

Alderman Fred Paone, a Republican who voted against the measure, criticized the budget as unfixable. He said it's "totally unacceptable" that city government spending has increased 30 percent over the past seven years. He said the city is borrowing too frequently for routine projects.

"When everyone is greatly reducing the budget, we're increasing," he said.

Alderman Jared Littmann, a Democrat, proposed a new process for next year that looks at the money coming in, setting aside savings and funds for expenses such as pensions first, then seeing how much is left to pay for government programs.

Littmann pointed out that the budget surplus is about $3 million, down from $15 million last year and $8 million the year before.

"That is one of my areas of concern ... that we're losing that momentum in this year's budget," Littman said.

As proposed by Cohen, the property tax rate will increase from 64 cents per $100 of assessed value to 65.04 cents.

Projects that will be funded include continuing the replacement of the bulkhead and stormwater controls at City Dock, repaving roads and building new sidewalks.

The budget takes effect July 1.

In a separate action, aldermen voted to accept an independent commission's recommendation to raise the salaries for the next city council to $13,500 per year from $12,600. A new city council will be seated after elections this fall.

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