City Budget Proposes No Changes to Property Tax Rates, Fees, Fines

The College Park City Council will begin mulling the proposed budget for fiscal year 2013 this Saturday.

Can't be at the budget work session? Watch it on the city's website here.

The College Park Mayor and Council will soon begin mulling a $14.5 million budget for next year, but with a $97,000 surplus, a deep reserve and no proposed increase for property tax rates, the negotiations could be less contentious than those just completed by the Maryland General Assembly.

Even if the steep cuts currently in the state budget aren't reversed during a special session, the impact shouldn't trickle to College Park, City Manager Joe Nagro said.

“Our budget isn’t that dependent upon the state,” Nagro said. Property taxes from city residents and fines and fees make up 66 percent of the budget alone, he noted.

The city's predicted expenditure for fiscal year 2013 is a 2.76 percent increase over 2012, while revenues include no proposed increase to the property tax rate, fees, fines or charges, according to the budget summary.

Council will have the opportunity to make amendments to the budget, beginning at a worksession this Saturday, but Nagro does not expect the tax rate, fees or fines to be impacted.

“[Adjustments] would be in where they want to move the money. … If they want to add money to something,” he said.

Among the possible adjustments, council could divvy funds from a $97,289 budget surplus for various projects. The surplus can be assigned to Capital Improvement Program projects, items on a council crafted “wish list,” or other purposes, Nagro said.

Unused money from the surplus would fall into the unassigned reserve, the city’s “savings account,” as Nagro calls it. The $5.6 million reserve currently represents 38.8 percent of the requested 2013 budget.

“If we didn’t collect a nickel for three months…you can still pay your debts and pay your people and keep the city operating,” he said.

The city charter suggests that this unassigned fund equal 25 percent of the fiscal year operating budget, Nagro said. The surplus could move closer to the recommended percentage in coming weeks, when the city council considers a fiscal year 2012 budget amendment to use unassigned funds for a new public works department building.

The structure would require $1 million from the reserve, according to the budget summary. This expenditure and the could bring the reserve down to 29 percent of the 2013 operating budget, Nagro said.

The worksession will begin at 7:30 a.m. in the council chamber of , and continue Saturday, April 21 at the same time. The public hearing on the operating and capital budget is scheduled for Tuesday, May 8. The Mayor and Council are scheduled to adopt the FY2013 budget ordinance on Tuesday, May 22. The complete requested budget accompanies this post.

CP Resident April 14, 2012 at 02:04 PM
I propose using the surplus to have an independent third party evaluate potential savings to the city by outsourcing trash collection, street cleaning and maintenance, and landscaping. I've always wondered why the City has a massive staff to do these things. Outsourcing should allow the City to save money and be more nimble when staffing needs to be increased or reduced.
Robert Catlin April 16, 2012 at 04:51 PM
The County contracts out trash and recycling and charges residents about $330 per year per household for the service. The City spends about $1.3 million a year on trash and recycling, plus the amoritized cost of vehicles of about $200,000 a year, equals a cost of about 1.5 million. We receive about $300,000 in revenue for our trash collection, so we have a net cost of about $1.2 million,or about $270 per City household served. A contract hauler like Bates would pay about 10-15 percent less in wages and perhaps about 20-25 percent less in fringe benefits, so we might see some savings; perhaps $100,000 to 150,000 a year; as wages and benefits cost the City less than $800,000 for these two programs. Negatives include a major loss of CDL drivers so we would have to contract out snow plowing, which would result in a significantly lower quality service. In addition using a contract trash hauler would result in a significantly lower quality service with respect to cleaning up after rental property move outs. For me the cost savings would need to be much greater to compensate for the negatives, especially given that our costs are not especially high and the costs have risen very slowly over the past decade.


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