Aberdeen in midst of budget season

Monday's snow had no impact on the season at Aberdeen City Hall.

It's the middle of Budget Season as the city and its department heads prepare the government's operating plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

"The department heads owe the mayor and I their budgets this week," City Manager Doug Miller said at Monday night's Aberdeen City Council meeting.

Mayor Mike Bennett, the city council and Miller will discuss the preliminary budget during a council work session scheduled for Monday, April 8, at 4 p.m., Miller said during Monday's council meeting. It will be introduced Monday, April 15, at 4 p.m. during the council's scheduled work session. A public hearing will be held during the city council meeting scheduled for Monday, April 22, at 7 p.m.

"Because our assessable base has decreased," Miller said at Monday's meeting, "we don't need a constant yield tax rate hearing."

The constant yield tax rate is what would the tax rate need to be to generate the same revenue as the previous budget. In most years, the assessable base increases, meaning the government will receive more tax revenue on the same tax rate; and the constant yield tax rate, generally, would need to be lower for the city to collect the same amount, instead of more, than in the previous year's budget.

The unobstructed view

City Councilwoman Ruth Ann Young offered a rebuttal to an editorial in The Record last Friday that criticized the council for approving a plan to hold just one evening meeting per month instead of the traditional two.

"I'll call this the unobstructed view," Young said before offering her response to the editorial entitled "Obstructed view."

"We are accused of getting rid of staggered terms," she began. "To the best of my knowledge, Aberdeen has never had staggered terms, so we can't be getting rid of something we never did."

Part of the plan includes two 4 p.m. work sessions monthly. Young said, adding that all three of the monthly meetings will be recorded for later broadcast.

"By televising, we are really now much more open to the public than ever before," she said. "I'll say it again: By televising, we are really now much more open to the public than ever before."

Young also took issue with the editorial referencing fewer public meetings in Aberdeen at the same time as the mayor and city council are discussing possibly increasing the salaries paid to future mayors and city council members.

"We are not voting on our salaries," she said, adding that any salary increases would not take effect until after the next city election in November 2015.

"Indeed, these are the facts of the situation," she said in closing.

Three new police officers

Aberdeen Police Chief Henry Trabert introduced the three newest members of the Aberdeen Police Department to the mayor and city council Monday night.

They are Thaddeus P. Tomlinson, a lateral transfer from Annapolis, Michael D. Kirschner, a retired Baltimore City Police officer, and Officer Danielle M. Follosco, a lateral transfer from Perryville.

Aberdeen connection

Matt Lapinsky, Aberdeen's public works director, told the mayor and city council about efforts he has made to involve students at Harford County's Math and Science Academy, housed at Aberdeen High School, as interns working on projects for the city.

"I am so happy that he [Lapinsky] has started to bridge a huge, huge gap between the city and the school," City Councilwoman Sandy Landbeck said. She praised the talented students at the math and science academy: "They're from a different world. It's not the world where we went to school."

Few comments

Only Bob Hartman, from the 200 block of Paradise Road, spoke during the public comment period at Monday's city council meeting.

He criticized the mayor and city council for considering increasing the costs of trash stickers, asked for tax breaks for city residents who live on state roads and chastised the mayor and city council for pondering pay increases for their positions.

"I think it should be put on the referendum," he said about pay raises for the mayor and council, adding that the small city was headed for the same sort of disconnect many people see in the federal government in Washington, D.C.

DeMolay recognized

Mayor Bennett presented a proclamation to members of the Nelson J. Briggs Chapter of the DeMolay Society, recognizing the group and its efforts.

Bennett pointed out that although the chapter is based in Bel Air, Mr. Briggs at one time lived in Aberdeen.

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