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Proposed Aberdeen budget nears $35 million, but council changes are likely before passage

Aberdeen’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year approaches $35 million, with the biggest increases over the previous year centered on the city’s water and general funds, but the budget still has to be work-shopped by the city council.

The city’s general fund is proposed to go up by about $2 millionto $19.7 million and the city’s water fund would increase more than 90% to $7.1 million, according to the draft budget for fiscal year 2022, which begins July 1. Aberdeen’s capital budget would increase to about $2.4 million from approximately $1.7 million — a roughly 37% increase.

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Within the general fund, more than a third of the budget goes toward general government, a quarter to public safety and more than 20% to public works, according to the document.

But Aberdeen Mayor Patrick McGrady, who is also sitting as the interim city manager while Aberdeen said the city council will likely cut many projects included in the proposed budget.

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The city manager is tasked with crafting the budget, but right now, Aberdeen Mayor Patrick McGrady is occupying that role as the city searches for a new, permanent manager. Because of his dual position as interim city manager and a voting member of the council, McGrady said he did not want to overly influence the budget, so he included many projects that council is likely to cut.

“I didn’t feel it was the prerogative of the acting city manager to cut projects at that level,” he said. “It is not going to be passed with all that stuff in it.”

The draft budget is subject to approval from the five-member city council and has to be adopted by June 10, McGrady said.

Though McGrady said he expects many of the projects to be cut, a $2.5 million construction contract to connect a water supply line at Old Robin Hood Road to Beards Hill Road Extended along the Route 40 corridor to receive water from Havre de Grace is likely to stay in the budget through approval.

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The two cities reached a landmark agreement for Havre de Grace to sell water to Aberdeen in June 2020, marking the first time that two municipalities have agreed to such terms in Harford County.

At the rate Havre de Grace would offer, Aberdeen could realize an estimated savings of $150,000 to $200,000 a year to reinvest in its own infrastructure after paying for the pipeline, officials previously said. Each city is responsible for constructing a portion of the pipeline.

The cities sought to use a county government-owned pipeline that runs underneath Route 40 to transfer water between them, but the county denied them use of it for financial reasons and because of worries about comingling water in the pipe.

The city will also spend $1 million on construction of a water booster station to receive water from Havre de Grace, according to the budget.

Aberdeen is expected to receive approximately $13.3 million in federal money as part of the most recent round of stimulus funding to municipalities. McGrady said the funds come with conditions on what they can be used for, but he hopes to use some of it to pay for the pipeline if the guidelines permit it.

The city’s stadium fund is projected to decrease by 76.2% in the coming fiscal year — from near $2.7 million to around $649,000. McGrady explained that is because the city received a $1.7 million grant to replace the lights and field surface at Ripken Stadium.

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