Crofton voters failed to turn out in sufficient numbers Wednesday night to vote on a proposed budget for the special tax district, which means that board members will have to cut $18,000 from the 1993 spending plan.

Because the proposed $550,784 budget exceeds a 5 percentincrease cap, the special tax district's bylaws require that it be approved by the general membership. But only about 50 voters turned upfor the meeting, 25 shy of a quorum. The proposed budget would have increased spending 8.6 percent.

Crofton's tax rate is 29 cents per $100 of assessed property value. Under the proposed 1993 budget, the tax rate would have dropped to28 cents.

Since the budget has to be finished and sent to the county budget office by the end of the month, there is no time for the board to meet to schedule another voters meeting. The board will have to cut the budget so it falls under the 5 percent cap.

The president of the civic association, Ed Dosek, was clearly annoyed. "This is a sad commentary on the people of Crofton who don't come to a meetinglike this," he said. "It is an important issue."

Most residents who attended the meeting said they wanted to see more cuts, whether from the human services department's $48,000 budget or from legal fees used for covenant enforcement. Some suggested eliminating Crofton's $27,000-per-year community counselor, or making the position part time, something board members did not want to do during this budget process.

Residents also asked that Crofton do away with the part-time covenant enforcement officer position, which pays $3,145 a year. But board members said that position may be eliminated at the start of thenext fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Most of the discussion by board members centered on legal fees, budgeted at $20,500 -- $13,000 more than last year. Board members want to continue its tough stance on enforcing covenant violations, and members said they were worried about sending the wrong message by reducing the money allocated for legal fees.

If there is no money to back up threats of lawsuits, they argue, violators will not be convinced to clean up their act. "Thefuture is going to be dictated by what action we take," Dosek said.

The board will discuss the budget further at next Monday's meeting, when Town Manager Jordan Harding said he will propose a revised spending plan. "I've got a plan, and I think it's a plan you can buy," he said. "We'll be out in 30 minutes."

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