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Sykesville opens FY15 budget to comment, discusses joining state retirement plan

At its Monday meeting, the Sykesville Town Council discussed the Fiscal Year 2015 budget and the Maryland State Retirement and Pension Plan, among other topics.

The town opened its FY15 budget to public comment, with some questions remaining on a potential increase in tax revenue due to new residential developments. The proposed property tax revenue for FY15 is $1,316,447. Dawn Ashbacher, Sykesville town manager, said that because some permits haven't yet been approved, it's impossible to determine when the residential units will be completed. The figure that was reached for FY15 contains many variables but is as accurate as possible, she said.

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In addition to tax revenues, the budget addressed funding for street repairs. While repairs needed due to this year's severe winter are expected to cost $197,000, the town has budgeted only $180,000. To help offset the difference, the council had previously placed unused funds in the amount of $15,500 from FY13's street repair budget into a separate account.

The council also decided to continue its' pursuit to join the Maryland State Retirement and Pension Plan, and discussed the benefits of the Retirement Plan that was presented at the last meeting April 14. The retirement system could be used as a recruiting incentive for future employees. The deadline for entrance into the program is July 1.

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If the current employees of the town vote to enter into the program, they will be credited for 75 percent of their salary for this year, but starting July 1, 2015, their retirement package would be based on 100 percent of their salary going forward.

In other news:

The town is planning an oral round table where those with interesting memories of the old Sykesville Apple Factory can share their story. The event is set to take place at the Sykesville Town House from 2 to 4 p.m. May 9 and will become a part of the records of the Sykesville Gate House Museum and Sykesville Town House.

The council has received complaints about the limited parking availability in downtown Sykesville and discussed options to add additional parking to the area. One suggestion was adding parking spaces to the South Branch Park. Another idea was working out an arrangement with St. Paul's Methodist Church to open its parking lot to the public during the day. Ivy Wells, director of economic development for Main Street, stressed the need for improved signage in the downtown area.

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