SYKESVILLE -- Mayor Lloyd R. Helt Jr. told the Town Council last night that for every $3,500 that could be shaved from the proposed budget, 1 cent could be cut from the property tax rate.
That was the basis for the budget workshop that had department heads presenting their needs at a time when money is tight and state revenues down.
The Budget Committee presented a $760,153 budget on May 11 that called for an 82-cent property tax rate, an increase of 9 cents over last year.
That increase would mean the owner of a $134,000 home would pay $440 in town taxes, or $49 more than last year.
"I'm reluctant to raise the tax rate to 82 cents," Helt said. "I'm hoping to [hold] the tax rate to 78 cents."
A 78-cent rate would mean $418 in town property taxes for the $134,000 house.
While Town Clerk/Treasurer Vince Diffenbaugh also hopes to cut the proposed rate, he pointed out that services cost.
"Mayor Helt has said that people have told him they want to continue with the trash collection and police protection," Diffenbaugh said. "If they want to continue that, those people have to be paid."
The first department report at the workshop brought bad news.
"We have no problem with the salary, but the trucks and equipment are getting old and wearing out," said Randy Hughes, sanitation supervisor.
One trash truck has required hundreds of dollars in repairs in recent months. A dump truck was wrecked in a snowstorm last January.
After some discussion, it was decided to give the Sanitation and Public Works departments an additional $7,000 in maintenance money from the $13,387 in insurance on the wrecked dump truck.
The Parks and Recreation Department also needed some new equipment, but Will Gabeler, supervisor, suggested an increase in park pavilion rental fees to cover maintenance costs.
Helt agreed to raise the fees from $15 to $25 and to increase the fee for alcohol permits to $50.
"Alcohol permits should be raised because that involves police protection," Police Chief Wallace Mitchell said.
The council looked at the remainder of the budget on a line-by-line basis to whittle down the tax rate.