TANEYTOWN - A $3.7 million budget that holds taxes steady and raises water and sewer fees passed the Taneytown City Council Monday night.
The city's Fiscal Year 2015 budget passed 3-1 without any discussion at the council's monthly meeting.
Councilman Joe Vigliotti voted against the budget. In an interview, he said his reservations were because of the water and sewer fee hike and the constant yield tax rate.
The constant yield concept goes like this: When assessments increase, the tax rate should decrease so that revenue stays at a constant level from the current year to the next, according to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation's website. Vigliotti said he disagrees with the state law on principle.
The law requires jurisdictions to give residents notice if it will collect more in tax revenue than it did in the previous year. Taneytown's FY15 budget states it was exempt from notice requirements, and did not raise taxes.
The budget keeps property taxes at 37 cents per $100 assessed value.
Both the water and sewer rates will increase 13 percent based on a multi-year plan that raises these rates incrementally to help pay for the construction of a wastewater treatment plant 15 years ago and a state-mandated update to how wastewater is treated.
Starting in July, water rates will be $6.53 per 1,000 gallons. Sewer usage fees will be $12.81 per 1,000 gallons.
Additionally, the council discussed the Federal Emergency Management Agency's requirement for communities to adopt a floodplain management ordinance. Several city staff members have met with FEMA officials to discuss passing an ordinance, which FEMA's website states is utilized to ensure that communities take into account known flood hazards in land management and use actions.
Council members agreed that it's a complex issue, and they had many unanswered questions about what effect this could have on residents, especially those who want to build onto their property located in a floodplain.
"As I keep saying, my only concern is that you understand what you're signing up for as a city," Councilman Angelo Zambetti said at the meeting
City attorney Jay Gullo Jr. said he will draft an ordinance so the council can see what it would look for Taneytown. That way the council could "at least hit the ball if you want to hit it," he said at the meeting.
Additionally, council members discussed having representatives from FEMA talk to the council as a whole to help answer lingering questions.