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Carroll County Times

New Windsor still adjusting proposed budget before public hearing in June

The New Windsor Town Council is slated to continue working on its proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2013 at tonight's work session, which will be followed by a public hearing on the budget June 13.

The Town Council introduced the budget May 2 with information about the general fund and enterprise fund, which covers the town water and sewer system, but is planning to complete the capital budget tonight.

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The general fund budget is balanced at $630,450, a 4.5 percent increase over the current year's budget, and is based on the current town tax rate of 20 cents per $100 of assessed value of property.

The proposed budget is expecting a $480 decrease in license and permit revenue, $2,553 decrease in county and state revenue, $2,300 less in service fees and $6,000 less in interest on town funds. These decreases are being compensated for with an $8,000 expected surplus from Fiscal Year 2012 and a $10,000 transfer from the town's reserve funds.

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The Town Council is considering offering a retirement benefit to its employees, Town Manager Frank Schaeffer said, so the $10,000 from the town's reserves would be set aside for that specific use, though the Town Council has not officially voted on the issue yet.

"If they do something, that's where the funds are coming from, and if they don't do something, then the funds won't be expended," he said.

As for expenses, the town is budgeting for a limited amount of growth in a handful of areas. Legislative and executive costs are remaining the same except for a $500 increase budgeted for the clerk's salary. Professional services costs are rising by an additional $2,500 for legal fees and $1,000 for audit fees.

Costs for the municipal building are rising by just $3,070, mostly due to IT support costs, Schaeffer said, although due to a typo, that funding was accidentally added to the office supplies and machine maintenance line item within the municipal building expenses breakdown.

The town resident deputy's cost is increasing from $89,810 to $91,300, which is lower than the $94,300 the town was expecting when it first started preparing the budget.

The public works budget is increasing from $217,592 to $220,200, with the bulk of that increase coming from a $3,000 increase in the trash collection contract, Schaeffer said.

Under miscellaneous, the budget includes an $8,500 increase in health-care benefits to cover an employee who was previously receiving health insurance from another source but will be joining the town plan.

And the town is contributing $18,300 to the contingency fund, compared to the $12,000 budgeted for this fiscal year.

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"We're balancing our budget by adjusting the contingency," Schaeffer said.

The enterprise fund is budgeted at $771,600, a 9.6 percent increase over the current budget, but Schaeffer said that budget could change once the town hears back from the Maryland Department of the Environment on how the town's loan from MDE will be restructured.

The town announced April 16 that it had received a $2 million grant that was built into the state capital budget that passed by the Maryland General Assembly. Schaeffer said it is still uncertain how MDE will restructure the town's payment plan for the $3.9 million loan the town has through MDE for its new wastewater treatment plant, but in his estimates, the town's annual loan payment to MDE should be reduced from $206,000 to $100,000.

Once the town gets more information it will adjust the sewer rates, Schaeffer said. However, since that might not happen until several months into the start of FY13, he has left the sewer rates at the levels previously determined by the town council.

Expenditures for the sewer system are expected to increase from $419,200 to $498,010, due to an increase in the contract with Maryland Environmental Service, an increase in the cost of the wastewater treatment plant loan, and an increase in the loan reserve and contingency fund for the system.

The water system expenditures are expected to decrease from $285,037 to $273,590. The savings are coming from $10,000 less in expenses for electricity due to a new provider and $5,000 less of a contribution to the water capital project reserve.

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The Town Council will discuss possible projects in the capital budget tonight, however, all funding from these projects will have to come from reserves and grant funds because there is no room for it in the general budget, Schaeffer said. Possible projects listed in the capital budget include improvements to Water Street, storm drain repairs, purchase of equipment for the department of public works and some park improvements.

"Whether it will move forward with any of these projects or not, I don't know," Schaeffer said.

The public hearing on the proposed budget will be at the next Town Council meeting, which was moved from the first Wednesday of the month to the second, June 13, to avoid a conflict with the New Windsor fire carnival that runs the first week of June.


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