New Windsor residents will get a 5-cent break on their 1998-1999 property taxes, the Town Council decided yesterday in voting 3-2 to adopt a tax cut.
However, town residents probably will see an increase in quarterly water-usage fees.
The council majority endorsed the proposal of Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr. to reduce the municipal property tax rate -- already the lowest among Carroll's eight incorporated towns -- from 45 cents to 40 cents per $100 of assessed value.
Council members reported mixed sentiment among residents after the introduction last month of the town's proposed $263,000 budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 and the accompanying tax cut.
The budget adopted last night is about $3,000 less than the current year's. Gullo had argued that taxes could be cut without any reduction in town services.
Councilman Terry Petry, who cast the deciding vote for the tax cut, expressed ambivalence up to the moment of the vote. He said he had heard from citizens who said, "Keep the money," others who favored the nickel reduction, and some who "don't care."
Petry said the prospect of a water rate increase swayed him in favor of the property tax cut, but warned, "If it's only for a year or two, and then it goes back up, even if it's only a penny or two, they're going to squawk."
Neither the mayor nor council provided data on the potential effect of a water rate increase that is under consideration. But Gullo said the town's tradition of subsidizing water service from general tax revenues has been a mistake. The municipal water supply is a service that should be supported by users, he said.
Councilmen Neal C. Roop and Paul Garver voted against the tax cut.
"We've been talking about [hiring] our own police officer and what I always hear is that we don't have enough money. Here's a chance to provide that money," Roop said.
New Windsor's police protection is provided by a resident state trooper who divides his time between the town of 1,100 and Union Bridge, a town of about 1,000 residents four miles to the northwest.
Gullo countered that the 5-cent tax reduction is equal to $12,100 -- not enough money to pay for a full-time town police officer.
Garver said residents he spoke with favored retaining the 45-cent tax rate and to "put that money aside" for future needs.
Pub Date: 5/07/98