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Manchester council, facing ‘some uncertainties,’ proposes no raise in tax rate

Manchester Mayor Ryan Warner speaks during the town's first virtual council meeting April 14.
Manchester Mayor Ryan Warner speaks during the town's first virtual council meeting April 14. (Courtesy Photo)

In its April meeting, the Manchester Town Council discussed holding the tax rate steady for the upcoming financial year, as the council members battled through technical difficulties in their first meeting held via video conference.

The property tax rate for fiscal year 2021 will stay at 21.6 cents for every $100 of assessed value, the second-lowest in Carroll County, Mayor Ryan Warner said.

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“We’ll have some uncertainties in town, as many families will. Economic conditions are changing rapidly. ... We’re going to have to make some decisions on how to make that work on the back end, as everybody else will,” he said.

The council members introduced the ordinance at their April 14 meeting, but will have a public hearing at their May meeting before they vote whether to make it official. An ordinance introducing water and sewer rates is expected to come at the May meeting, too.

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All council members and senior staff were present via the video conference platform Zoom. At the start, Warner said they expected technical difficulties and asked the public to bear with them. Throughout the video, which can be viewed on Channel 23 or through the Community Media Center’s YouTube channel, there is audio echo and distortion.

Town offices are currently closed to in-person visits, though staff are still available by phone and email. In light of this, the due date for town water bills, which are normally due April 30, was extended to May 15. Payments can be made by mail, online or through the secure dropoff box outside the town offices. The town waived fees for using the online service.

Steve Miller, town administrator, thanked the public for their “patience in these trying times” and city employees for keeping vital services continuing even as they are on a rotating schedule.

Warner asked Miller to pass on his appreciation to employees as well and promised they would do something to recognize them as soon as they could all be in the same room or the same pavilion together.

Police Chief John Hess echoed many law enforcement agencies in Carroll, saying that calls for services have been down. The only serious crime in the previous month at that point was an isolated theft, and that case has been cleared. The Manchester Police Department was called five times to enforce the governor’s executive order against large gatherings, and said all were resolved peacefully with a verbal warning.

Since then, Hess said on May 1, two more incidents were reported: a house party that resulted in no violation and another violation at a local skatepark.

He noted that churches and the food pantry Tree of Friends were busy looking out for others providing food for those in need, and that local grocery store Millers Market was working diligently to keep shelves stocked.

The town did not receive any public comment via email or dropoff for the meeting.

The next meeting of the town council is scheduled for May 12 at 7:30 p.m.

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