Havre de Grace's City Council Monday passed a $14.8 city million budget for 2012, more than the $14.7 million originally proposed and significantly higher than previous budgets.
The budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 includes a real property tax rate decrease of one cent, from $0.60 per $100 of assessed property value to $0.59.
The total budget is more than the $11.6 million actual fiscal year 2011 budget, as well as the $13.3 million budget for fiscal year 2010.
The city increased its efforts to get federal and state grants, and grant revenues are therefore expected to increase by more than $530,000 from anticipated fiscal 2011 awards, Mayor Wayne Dougherty wrote in an introduction to the updated version of the budget.
The grant applications for 2012 are for infrastructure improvements and will only move forward if those grants are received, the introduction says.
The council unanimously passed an amendment, introduced by Councilman Jim Miller, to move $35,000 from the public works department to the council's budget for "miscellaneous operating costs," essentially giving the council discretion on how the money is spent.
Miller said he was concerned about plans to spend the money on signboards, and other council members agreed with those concerns.
"Last week we had a public hearing here and I asked a question about a purchase and the purchase was not made, it was not even considered," Miller said. "I feel the council needs to get more involved in the spending of the city of HdG and stop just spending other people's money because we can afford to."
Councilman Fred Cullum said he agreed with the proposal as long as the money gets spent on DPW needs.
About the signboards, he said, "I think if we had to rent them, we could probably rent them a long time for $35,000… I'm sure we could pay for a couple of clocks for $35,000 and certainly for some streets that need to be paid."