Taneytown mayor on budget: Easier to balance thanks to city's growth

Taneytown mayor on budget: Easier to balance thanks to city's growth
The Taneytown Mayor and Council at a budget workshop meeting Wednesday, Feb. 27. From left: Council members Judy Fuller, Joe Vigliotti, Diane Foster, the mayor pro tem, Mayor James McCarron, and council members Bradley Wantz and Donald Frazier. (Alex Mann / Carroll County Times)

Taneytown’s Mayor and Council convened Wednesday to discuss for the first time the proposed fiscal year 2020 budget, which as drafted allows the city to cut into longstanding debt while holding the tax, water and sewer rates steady.

The draft budget, prepared by city staff for the mayor and to present to the council, features an unchanged tax rate of $0.37. And while the tax rate remains the same as FY 2019, the city estimates it will earn $44,000 more because of development.


“We finally have some money to do some things,” Mayor James McCarron told the Times after the public meeting. “And we don’t have to raise taxes, that’s the great thing.”

The draft budget provides for capital investments: two new police cruisers, a new dump truck, overhauling Roberts Mill Road, a long-in-the-works nature park, refurbishing parts of two water towers, among other projected expenses.

Both of the requested water tower upgrades are budgeted for $700,000. Acting City Manager Jim Wieprecht told the elected officials that the towers were marked by the Maryland Department of the Environment as needing improvement — though not mandated.

McCarron proffered paying for one upgrade in fiscal year 2020 and another in the following fiscal year. Council was amenable to the idea, but suggested running it by the MDE to make sure no consent order would be brought against the city.

The draft budget also holds water and sewer rates steady — with no change to either from the last fiscal year.

With the water and sewer revenue projected higher than expenditures for either, Councilman Joe Vigliotti asked if it would be possible to lower rate in the near future.

Wieprecht warned having some wiggle room in the water and sewer fund was beneficial to the city. In the case repairs would be needed, the city wouldn’t have to seek capital outlay money, he said.

“We’re finally getting to the point where we have a little bit of a cushion,” he told council.

Vigliotti after the meeting told the Times he was satisfied that the city would be able to maintain water and sewer rates they reduced two years ago.

“We’re heading in the right direction,” he said.

Council members discussed replenishing the city’s general fund, acknowledging that they’d dug into it over the past few years. Borrowing less from the general fund would protect the city in the case of emergencies.

“There’s nothing wrong with having money for emergencies,” Councilwoman Judy Fuller told the Times. “It’s like maintenance for your cars.”

McCarron, who chalked up the budget as “good” and “balanced,” attributed the positive situation to an improving economy and city growth.

“This is a perfect example of what happens when we start to see a little bit of growth,” he said. “It’s so much easier to balance the budget.”