Westminster council OKs a $17.3 million budget


Westminster Common Council adopted a $17.3 million budget last night for fiscal 2001 that gives city employees a 2.5 percent pay raise and maintains water and sewer rates and property taxes.

The budget is about $325,000 larger than the current fiscal budget. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

City employees will receive a 2.5 percent raise, plus $240. City employees received a 2 percent raise last year. The budget also increases the pay for entry-level police officers from $28,023 to $31,209 annually.

"The increase in salary for police is part of our efforts to recruit and retain qualified officers in the city of Westminster," said Councilman L. Gregory Pecoraro, finance committee chairman.

At a recent work session, the council trimmed $1.3 million from the proposed budget to make expenses equal expected revenue. About $1.1 million was trimmed from capital projects.

City officials said they might be able to fund postponed playground and parking lot projects through newly created state programs.

Also last night, the council appointed five people to the newly created board of housing appeals: Lori Graham, J. Brooks Leahy, Darcel Harris, Robin Kable and Ober Herr, Jr.

The housing board is charged with hearing appeals of citations made because of the property maintenance code enacted in March.

The code covers minimum requirements and standards for fire safety, light, sanitation, space, heating and other issues in "current and future" city rental properties.

Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan urged new board members to work together without an agenda. "They should be dedicated to hearing all sides of an issue before making a decision," he said.

In addition, the mayor and council:

Canceled the council meeting May 28 because of the Memorial Day holiday.

Appointed Jay C. Voight to a two-year term on the parks board and reappointed Romeo Valianti, Gary W. Beard and J. Stewart Zendgraft to three-year terms on the board of zoning appeals.

Agreed to allow Nextel Communications to lease a spot on a city-owned water tank in Wakefield Valley for an antenna. Nextel will pay the city $2,100 per month in rent with a 3.75 percent increase annually for five years plus a $2,000 signing bonus and $3,500 administrative fee.

Appointed Pecoraro to act as council liaison to the Carroll County Arts Council board.

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