Crofton Civic Association board members have found only $7,000 to trim from the $944,000 tax district budget that it administers for the county after they finished a series of budget hearings this week.
The association's president, Gayle Sears, expressed concern at seeing the community's surplus disappear because of rising costs in salary and benefits for its 12 employees.
The board recommended Monday that the community comptroller's part-time work week remain at 25 hours, rather than be increased to 30 as recommended in the budget submitted by Town Manager Barbara Swann -- saving $5,000. During the hearings, Swann told the board that the extra hours were needed for Comptroller Jane Tranby, who handles the tax district's billing and recordkeeping.
The board also found an error accounting for $2,000.
The surplus was of greater concern to Sears. Now $39,500, the surplus is being devoured in the funding for the fiscal year 2001 budget that is under review.
"We are using just about all of this," she said. "But we need to look at next year and the following year if we are going to continue to have as many employees as we do now. Those costs keep going up."
The employees include a six-member police force, comptroller, town manager and two maintenance workers. Property owners cover those salaries through a special-benefit district tax of 27 cents per $100 of assessed value, in addition to county and state property taxes.
Board members found no way to reduce costs, including an increase of as much as 7.5 percent in workers' insurance rates.
"We don't have a place to get more revenues to pay for rising costs of our staff," Sears said. She urged the board to think of further budget cuts.
Although the budget is balanced, the civic association would have to come up with $20,000 to reduce the property tax rate by a penny.
Board members also discussed cuts to bring the civic association's own budget of about $11,000 back in line; with about $8,800 coming from grants and activity income, the association faces a $2,200 deficit. Members voted to cut the $750 normally slated for charitable donations and said they will try to have fund-raisers during the year to raise money for specific causes.
The board is still trying to find a way to cover the association's anticipated $3,600 in office expenses, including whether it can charge the tax district for the use of the town hall, Sears said.
The board will meet again Nov. 8 to discuss more cuts and finalize the proposal to be mailed to residents of the tax district, who vote on the budget at a general meeting in January.