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Havre de Grace moves forward on 2014 budget without controversy

Budgets and Budgeting

A short budget hearing seems to foretell easy sailing for the City of Havre de Grace's proposed 2014 budget.

Just one person came to the city council's final budget hearing Monday evening at city hall.

Steve Gamatoria, the former councilman who is selling his home and surrounding ground to the city for a waterfront park, told the council to keep up the good work. Voters approved the $1.29 million acquisition in the May city election.

"I want to congratulate the mayor and council for putting together another great budget, where we are seeing a decrease in our tax rate and really getting our arms around the expense side," Gamatoria told council members.

"It's nice to see, when you pick up the paper and see other municipalities, other counties, growing their government," he said. "Havre de Grace is setting a standard where they are doing the opposite."

The council formally introduced a $14.8 million proposed general operating budget for fiscal year 2014 last week, which Council President Randy Craig noted at the time includes a spending reduction of more than $500,000 from the current fiscal year.

"I firmly believe this is the most important thing our city council does," Craig said during the previous council meeting. "That's a good government policy when we're able to provide the same services we have at less money, giving our residents the best bang for their buck."

In February, Mayor Wayne Dougherty had drafted a preliminary budget of $15.9 for 2014, a significant increase from the $15.3 million approved for fiscal year 2013.

Finance Director George DeHority explained last week, however, that the $14.8 million budget introduced and passed on first reading by the council Monday, reflects a more accurate projection accounting for revenue the city has received from February through March.

On May 20, the council voted to lower the city's real property tax rate for 2014 to 56 cents per $100 of assessed value from 58 cents in effect for the current fiscal year.

Final adoption is scheduled for the city council meeting this Monday, June 17.

The 2014 budget can be read online at havredegracemd.com.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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