Aberdeen expects 27 percent budget increase, same tax rates

The City of Aberdeen's proposed operating budget for 2014 will be 27 percent higher than this year's budget, but there will be no increase in local real property, personal property or utility tax rates.

The budget increase will be made possible in part by a settlement the city received for cleaning up its wellfield from MTBE, or methyl tertiary-butyl ether, contamination about eight years ago.

The city was awarded $2,577,140.33 last year from the MTBE settlement.

During a city hall work session Monday evening, members of the Aberdeen City Council got a copy of the proposed 2014 budget, which is expected to be formally introduced at the next city council meeting on May 20.

The total operating budget would go up to $15,830,168 from the appropriation of $12,452,081 in 2013, the latter which was a significant drop from $16,421,925 in 2012.

The spending increase in the 2014 budget is mostly caused by $3,678,928 that would be transferred to capital projects, with about two-thirds of the money being used for street improvements. That plan was discussed by Mayor Mike Bennett and city council members earlier this year. The city, like all Maryland municipalities, is also due to get more state gasoline tax revenue than in recent years.

In 2012, the city dramatically cut its budget, as City Manager Doug Miller said at the time the city had lost $109 million from its assessable property tax base.

The new budget proposes to keep the same real property tax rate of $0.68 per $100 of assessed value and the same personal property tax rate of $1.70 per $100 of assessed value. Taxes on utilities' property will also be levied at $1.70 per $100 of assessed value.

The new budget also proposes a water use rate of a minimum of $15.23 quarterly for the first 3,500 gallons or less and $4.60 per each additional 1,000 gallons.

The sanitary sewer use rate would be set at $19.57 quarterly or the first 3,500 gallons or less of metered water and $5.58 per each additional 1,000 gallons of metered water.

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