The Commissioners of Leonardtown have adopted a Fiscal Year 2015 budget that retains the current property tax and water rates but includes a two-percent sewer rate charge. The budget was unanimously adopted Monday after a public hearing at which there were no comments.
The $1.36 million general fund budget includes $141,599 to pay for one time capital items. The balance is appropriated for recurring operating expenses and represents a 1.35 percent increase over the amended FY ’14 budget, according to Town Treasurer Rebecca Sothoron. The budget does not include a cost-of-living increase for town employees but it does include merit increases.
According to Sothoron the town’s fund balance is now at a 41 percent reserve, down from the goal of 50 percent. But Sothoron, in response to a question from Councilman Hayden Hammett, said the town normally budgets conservatively, so the reserve could be higher than that at the end of the 2015 Fiscal year.
The town, like all local municipalities in the state, experienced a greater than budgeted expense for snow removal: actual $32,000 versus $15,000 budgeted. It is hoped next winter will be milder.
Even though assessments have been on the decline, residential growth has given the town flat property tax revenues but a nine percent increase in income tax revenues. Property taxes make up 44 percent of the operating revenue and income taxes contribute 34 percent.
Sothoron told the town council that the town had experienced a savings in health insurance premiums. That savings is being used for a pavilion at the wharf park and for the Washington Street sidewalk project
The existing tax rate included in the new budget, $.1266 per assessed $100, is actually lower than the constant yield of $.1298 as calculated by the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.
When no one spoke at the public hearing Town Councilwoman Leslie Roberts said it must be an indication that the town residents are satisfied with home things are going.