Sykesville tax rate to increase 9 cents 150 percent rise in landfill fee rate blamed for jump


In Sunday's story, "Sykesville tax rate to increase 9 cents," the annual cost of Fogle's twice-weekly trash pickup should have been $183.60. Weekly pickup is $130.80.

SYKESVILLE -- A 150 percent increase in the county landfill tipping fee rate is going to cost residents here an extra 9 cents on their fiscal 1992-1993 property tax rate.

Despite a four-hour budget workshop Tuesday night, the mayor and Town Council were unable to reduce the proposed $760,153 budget, which calls for an 82-cent property tax rate.

Sykesville is the only town in Carroll County that expects to raise its property tax rate this year.

The increase means the owner of a $134,000 home will pay $49 more in town property taxes than last year.

"I don't have a lot of joy in this, but I have to accept what the council has shown me," said Mayor Lloyd R. Helt Jr. "We're paying for our past sins."

The town has steadily dropped its property tax rate since the mid-1980s. Last year was the first time in more than six years that the rate increased.

"It never should have dropped the way it did because we weren't dealing with the things that were confronting us, like state and federal mandates and inflation," Helt said.

Maxine Wooleyhand, councilwoman from 1987 to 1991, noted that the tax rate is actually 15 cents above the state's constant-yield rate of 67 cents, which is the rate at which the same amount in tax revenue is generated as the year before.

"That's a pretty big jump for a small town," she said. "A lot of times [in the past], people didn't look at the overall picture of overspending in the departments. When you're given a budget, you spend within it, not over it."

But the biggest budget problem this year comes from the county commissioners' increase of the landfill tipping fee rate from $15 to $38 per ton. Sykesville is the only town in the county that provides its own trash pickup.

"That's where the killer was," said Councilman Walter White. "If you look at the increase, that's 10 cents by itself. If that hadn't come up, we could have kept the tax rate the same or even lowered it a penny."

Town officials calculated that for every $3,500 saved, one cent on the tax rate could be cut. Landfill tipping fees for fiscal 1993 are estimated at $60,000, an increase of $36,000 over last year.

Even with that increase, it still is less expensive for residents to have the town rather than a contractor pick up their trash. Helt said it costs the town $45 per household per year for twice-weekly pickup.

By comparison, two local haulers charged more for the service. Fogle's twice-weekly pickup, using the resident's own container, is $130.80 a year. Eastern Waste Industries offers once-weekly pickup only, at a cost of $160.56 per year, using the customer's container.

Rental of the hauler's trash totes increases the cost by $24 to $32 annually.

To help cover the higher tipping fees, the budget calls for a 119 percent increase in commercial refuse pickup and Dumpster fees. Business owners who discard a medium Dumpster-load of trash each week will pay a quarterly increase of $36 to $79.

Dick Norris, owner of Consolidated Stationers and president of the Sykesville Business Association, said the increase is "just another nail in the coffin" for businesses.

"In the end, what it means is higher prices for the consumer," he said.

Ginny Welsh, co-owner of Past Tymes General Store and Ice Cream Parlor, said the town should give businesses that recycle a break on fees.

The commercial increase was necessary because the business district generates half the town's trash, officials said.

And there are other expenses. Health insurance costs for the town's 14 full-time and two part-time employees increased 12 percent.

Plans to convert the old maintenance building into a new police department facility are under way, with $15,000 allotted toward the estimated $125,000 cost.

"We need the police station," Council President Kenneth Clark said. "We can't keep handcuffing people to the fireplace. We're looking at a serious legal problem there if something happened."

Town equipment also is wearing out and needs to be replaced, but the council decided to try to make do and gave the Sanitation and Public Works departments extra money for maintenance.

To pay for necessities, other items had to be sacrificed. Employees will receive no salary or cost-of-living increase; major equipment purchases have been deleted from the capital budget; park facilities will have to wait for needed improvements.

The council will conduct a public hearing on the proposed budget at 7 p.m. June 8. Residents can obtain a copy of the budget from the Town Office.

"If the people can give us some constructive ideas on where to cut, we'll eagerly look at their ideas," Helt said.

Sykesville's tax rate and budget

Year .. .. .. .. Rate .. .. .. Town budget

1985-86 .. .. .. $.90 .. .. .. .. $419,409

1986-87 .. .. .. $.88 .. .. .. .. $522,540

1987-88 .. .. .. $.84 .. .. .. .. $552,810

1988-89 .. .. .. $.80 .. .. .. .. $599,129

1989-90 .. .. .. $.74 .. .. .. .. $697,683

1990-91 .. .. .. $.68 .. .. .. .. $677,065

1991-92 .. .. .. $.73 .. .. .. .. $687,307

1992-93* .. .. ..$.82 .. .. .. .. $760,153

*1992-93 budget is proposed

SOURCE: Town of Sykesville

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