Carroll 2014 budget raises water and sewer rates

Carroll County residents will see an increase in their water and sewer rates to maintain existing infrastructure as part of the fiscal year 2014 budget adopted by the Board of County Commissioners Tuesday.

The board formally adopted its $367 million operating budget for fiscal year 2014 by a 3-2 vote.

The average increase per residential user will be $8 to $12 per quarter for water, a 10 percent increase, and $7 to $10 per quarter for sewer, a 6 percent increase.

The commissioners voted unanimously to approve the resolution approving the rates. The rates become effective July 1.

Commissioners Robin Frazier and Richard Rothschild voted against the operating budget, stressing their opposition to the amount of funding funneled to Carroll County Public Schools.

The county has allocated $163.5 million for the school system in fiscal 2014, down $1.4 million from 2013. Carroll County Public Schools is planning to use $5.4 million of its $12.6 million fund balance this year for bonuses and other expenditures in the budget.

"It's a very close call for me," Rothschild said. "I'm still not comfortable with the structure of the education budget, but other than that I probably would have supported this budget."

Commissioners president Doug Howard said he was pleased overall with the budget and Commissioner Haven Shoemaker called it the "best budget" put forth by the commissioners in their three years in office.

The 2014 budget includes flat-funding county nonprofits, $400,000 for a controversial Education Opportunity Fund, raises for county employees, and a slight tax decrease for residents.

The board voted 4-1 last week to approve the budget with Frazier casting the lone vote against. Frazier has voted against each budget proposal during her three years on the board.

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