Rising costs prompt proposal for 9-cent property tax increase


SYKESVILLE -- Rising landfill fees and health insurance costs have forced the Town Council to ask for a 9-cent increase in the property tax rate for fiscal 1993.

Those two items represent the biggest jumps in projected expenditures over past year, said finance committee members who presented a proposed budget to Mayor Lloyd R. Helt Jr. at Monday's council meeting.

The $760,153 budget calls for a property tax rate of 82 cents per $100 of assessed value, up from the 73-cent rate in the current year's $687,307 budget.

That means the owner of a typical $134,000 home, assessed at 40 percent, would pay $440 in town taxes, or $49 more than last year, plus $1,260 in county taxes.

"Budgets have always been a struggle, and this has been one of those tougher-than-usual years," Helt told the council. "But this is a budget we feel we can work with you on, and I hope you'll try to bring [the tax rate] down."

In asking for the tax increase, Helt noted that the state's constant yield tax rate of 67 cents "doesn't allow for the tipping fee increase from $15 to $38 a ton."

The constant yield is the rate that would generate the same amount of taxes from year to year based on increased assessments and growth.

The county has offered the town a $2 reduction in the proposed $40 tipping fee to cover the cost of Sykesville's recycling program. But the increase still means a $36,000 jump over last year, to $60,000.

To help cover the tipping fees, commercial refuse and recycling collection revenues are expected to rise from $20,000 to $35,000.

Another high-cost area is health insurance for town employees.

"Health insurance continues to go up dramatically," said Council President Kenneth Clark. "We didn't ask the employees to contribute any more to their health insurance plan because they're not getting any raise, no cost-of-living increase, nothing."

The budget calls for $42,500 in health insurance expenditures, up over $33,000 for last year.

Other significant changes include:

* State income tax revenue -- down by $10,000.

* Highway user revenue -- up $8,000 because of the 5-cents-a-gallon gas tax increase.

* Police grant revenue -- down $9,500.

* County grant revenue -- up by $10,730.

* Sanitation Department expenditures -- up from $70,600 last year to $110,387 to include the possible purchase of a truck to handle recyclables.

* Police department expenditures -- up $6,350, largely for the salary of a receptionist to be hired when the police move out of the Town House to new quarters.

The council approved Helt's introduction of the budget Monday night and will have a workshop session to discuss line items at 7 p.m. May 26. A public hearing and council vote are expected to be June 8.

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