Aberdeen approved a $29.4 million budget — which includes a tax rate decrease — for the next fiscal year, at its meeting Monday.

The five-member city council unanimously passed the budget for FY2020, which begins July 1.

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The tax rate will decrease 1.02 cents per $100 of assessable base, from 65.02 cents to 64 cents for city residents, below the city’s constant yield tax rate.

The city’s water rate is proposed to increase 59 cents from $19.09 to $19.68 for a minimum 3,500 gallons or less, while the rate per an additional 1,000 gallons over 3,500 gallons will increase 17 cents from $5.77 to $5.94. Sewer rates will remain at $23.65 for the first 3,500 gallons and $6.74 per 1,000 gallons additional.

The budget includes an $18 million general fund budget, $1.7 million capital project fund, $4 million water fund, $4.6 million sewer fund and $1.1 million stadium fund, according to budget documents.

The council also on Monday approved a transfer of $75,000 into this year’s stadium fund budget to cover additional legal fees with regard to the lawsuit filed by Tufton Professional Baseball against the city and the city’s countersuit.

Tufton, the parent company of the Aberdeen IronBirds and owned by Cal Ripken Jr. and his brother, Bill, and the city have agreed to a 90-day stay in the case to try and negotiate an agreement, according to court records. The 90 days expire July 30.

Aberdeen to spend $1 million on road projects in next fiscal year

The city of Aberdeen has about $1 million to spend on road repairs in the next 12 months, city officials said.

Also on Monday, the Aberdeen City Council unanimously approved a lower admission and amusement tax on multiplex movie theaters in the city. The rate will decrease from 10 percent to 6.5 percent.

Bob Weinholt Sr. thanked the council for lowering the tax rate and said he has applied for the building permit for the eight-screen theater, with recliners, in the Aberdeen Marketplace shopping center on Route 22 at Beards Hill Road.

He said he plans to begin work the first or second week of July with hopes of opening by Christmas, and if not Christmas, by the new year.

Weinholt said closing the movie theater across Route 22 in Beards Hill shopping center in 1997 “was one of the worst things I ever had to do in my life.”

“It’s been a 20-year trek for me to get back here. I started in Fallston, getting back into Harford County, and now here,” said Weinholt, one of the owners of Horizon Cinemas Fallston at the intersection of Route 1 and Route 152. “It’s a full circle thing and no one is more excited about it than I am.”

Mayor Patrick McGrady said Aberdeen residents appear to be excited about it, too, judging by a post on his Facebook page that got more shares, more likes and more comments than anything else he has posted.

“People in Aberdeen are very excited for you to come back here, so if there’s anything else, let us know,” McGrady said.

The council introduced a development code amendment to add multi-family uses — garden and mid- and high-rise apartments — in a B3 business zoning district, which “had not been allowed in that district in quite some time,” Planning Director Phyllis Grover said.

The planning commission recommended approval of the amendment, she said.

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McGrady said the city doesn’t have much B3 zoned land left in the city and this would allow an additional use where there is already high-density commercial development.

“Years and years and years ago, when we made it not a permitted use, we felt it was not a good place to be putting apartments,” Councilwoman Sandra Landbeck said. “That has changed dramatically and as our city changes, our code needs to change also.”

McGrady said the change could have an impact on property owned by Klein and Salvo families near Middelton Road and a parcel owned by the city.

Landbeck pointed out the city doesn’t change zoning for a specific project, “but we certainly can change the zoning as the city changes.”

The council also declared to vehicles — a 2001 Jeep Cherokee with 82,000 miles and a 2008 Ford Ranger with 126,00 miles — as surplus. They will be sold on www.govdeals.com.

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