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Town Crier for July 2001 (Special Edition)

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Council Adopts Amended Budget

By Guy Tiberio

On June 18, the Town Council adopted the FY2001-2002 budget by a vote of 5-0. This came about after nearly a dozen lengthy meetings of both the former and current council over four weeks. Although the budget choices were difficult, all councilmembers worked diligently to reduce costs and find additional revenues to avoid placing the town at financial risk. The adopted operating budget of $3,129,270 is only $18,000 higher than last year's, but nearly $200,000 less than the budget proposed by the former mayor on May 1. That budget would have eliminated more than half of the present cash reserve, about $450,000, and have placed the town at risk of not being able to make payroll over the summer given the sporadic receipt by the town of checks from the State Department of Assessments and Taxation.

Some of the budget problems resulted from concerns that have arisen in the past several months. For example, reduced fines received from red light cameras during the Kenilworth Avenue reconstruction project and cost overruns in one department also contributed to less cash being in the town reserve.

The adopted budget is a combination of revenue increases and cost reductions and will require the town to spend only about $45,000 of its reserves, approximately a 90% reduction from the proposed budget. For the upcoming fiscal year, staffing will remain at last year's budgeted levels, and funds for materials will be reduced. Town staff will receive smaller raises this year, but, recognizing that staff are our most valuable resource, we are still offering high-quality health insurance and retirement plans. These and other cuts, along with raising long-stagnant fees for business and apartment licenses and parking fines, have allowed us to propose a more fiscally positive outlook for our town.

In addition, the entire town council voted unanimously to establish a special assessment to pay the debt servicing on several long-term financed items used by the town. In the past the town has used special assessments to pay for any long-term financed items such as major road projects, building construction, and vehicles. The special assessment, an increase of about $64 per year on a $125,000 home, will guarantee that all town debts will be paid in a timely manner.

For more information about the budget and other town financial matters, contact the Town Hall, 301-927-6381, or Guy Tiberio, Finance Committee Chair, 301-864-3545.

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