Gaithersburg’s proposed budget holds line on property taxes -- Gazette.Net


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Gaithersburg homeowners will pay the same property taxes as last year under a proposed city budget that has a heavier focus on capital projects for fiscal 2015.

The proposed $59.3 million budget is 4.5 percent higher than this year’s adopted budget, with $49.6 million for the operating budget and $8.8 million for the Capital Improvements Plan. The budget for fiscal 2015, which runs from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015, will be officially released April 14.

“It maintains services at the high level they are at. It gets some capital projects off the ground. It doesn’t increase the tax rate. We really can’t ask for much more than that,” said City Manager Tony Tomasello.

About $5.3 million will be pulled from the city’s “substantial reserve balance” and put toward capital projects, according to Tomasello. Three projects specifically — the new Gaithersburg police station, the city park at Crown and the city-owned former Consumer Product Safety Commission site — are top priorities.

“We have this history of putting little bits of money into lots of projects and that just wasn’t working for us anymore, so we put a lot of money into these three projects,” Tomasello said.

While Tomasello said the three projects will not be finished by the end of fiscal 2015, they are now on a fixed time frame for completion.

Within the six-year Capital Improvements Plan, the city has budgeted about $13 million to $15 million for the new police station which is expected to be open by the beginning of fiscal 2019. A site for the station has not yet been determined.

The city’s park at Crown is estimated to cost $1 million to $2.5 million and should be ready by the end of fiscal 2017.

On track to become a recreational facility, the former Consumer Product Safety Commission site on Darnestown Road is projected to cost $6 million to $7 million and be completed by fiscal 2018.

The city is not proposing a property tax rate increase and intends to maintain its current rate, set at $0.2620 per $100 of assessed value. Due to the rise in the city’s housing stock from Crown and the appreciation of home values, revenue from property tax is expected to increase by about $100,000, Tomasello said.

Seven new staff positions have also been requested for approval, especially for facility management and maintenance tasks, according to Tomasello.

“We need people to manage projects from beginning to end, which we haven’t had,” he said.

Other proposed positions include one or two new staff members in the Police Department, and a few jobs in the Parks, Recreation and Culture Department that will transition from part time to full time.

General service charges, which include fees for recreational programs, permits, inspections and others, are expected to increase on average by about 5 percent, Tomasello said.

The mayor and council are scheduled to hold a budget public hearing on April 21 and a worksession on April 28. A second public hearing will be on April 29 if needed. Adoption of the budget is scheduled for June 2.

jedavis@gazette.net