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Manchester budget offers more for workers, programs Council OKs $1.1 million plan, cuts property tax rate by 3 cents


MANCHESTER -- In a time when other governments are crying that the cupboard is bare, the Town Council here approved a budget that promises more for town employees, more for a voluntary recycling program and more for a new computer system.

The $1.1 million spending program also carries with it a 3-cent reduction -- from 42 cents to 39 cents per $100 of assessed value -- in the town's property tax rate.

In a brief public hearing at which no residents testified, the council decided to spend $524,000 on general government, $436,000 on sewage treatment and $178,000 on providing water.

The resulting spending plan is 33 percent higher than the $830,000 budget that runs through June 30.

And even though the owner of a typical $130,000 home will see a reduction in town property taxes from $218 to $202, water and sewer bills will rise sharply.

The water rate structure, passed last night, will mean that an average household which uses 18,000 gallons of water a quarter will see an annual bill of $113. The typical sewer bill is estimated at about $294, for a combined annual levy of $407, more than $100 above the current average.

The higher rates, the council said last night, were needed because money was not available from the county. But, according to council members, a last-minute increase in the amount of money the county will give to the town will allow the town's employees to receive a 4 percent cost-of-living increase next year.

Also in the budget is $26,400 to cover the cost of complying with what the council thought would be county-mandated recycling. The commissioners flip-flopped on the issue Monday and decided to make recycling in Carroll voluntary.

"I don't think anyone can really know what the commissioners are doing or what's going to happen," said Mayor Earl A. J. "Tim" Warehime Jr. "I can't see making a hasty decision taking that money out, and I can't see making a hasty decision to make recycling here mandatory."

The council also approved a $20,000 computer system for the town. Relying on a bid from only one company -- Municipal Services Inc., a subsidiary of Basically Computers -- the council went ahead with a system that would provide five work stations in town hall and in the police department.

Specifics of the proposal, while discussed and approved in open session, have not been disclosed to the public.

David Warner, the town's projects administrator, said the mayor and council would not reveal specifics because Municipal Services' bid was considered confidential.

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