ELKTON — After holding a public hearing on Elkton’s fiscal year 2019-20 budget Monday, Town Council is expected to vote to adopt the budget at its June 17 meeting.
No one spoke during the budget hearing.
The proposed town budget amounts to $11,642,028, which will take effect July 1. The 2018-19 budget is $6,433,738.
The real estate tax rate, which is currently 8.5 cents per $100, will go up to 11 cents per $100.
This is the first time since the 2006-07 fiscal year that the real estate tax rate has changed. In 2006, the rate changed from 10 cents per $100 to 8.5 cents per $100, City Manager Kimberly Alexander said at the hearing.
Alexander said the large jump in the overall budget is due to the $5,220,000 needed to put into the new sewer plant, which was ordered by the Department of Environmental Quality.
The town is receiving financing through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and won’t begin paying back the loan until around 18 to 20 months after the plant is built.
Council also held a hearing on the 5% increase on the water and sewer rates, along with the trash collection fees.
The current rate for a customer using 2,000 gallons per month is $10.94 for water and $23.65 for sewer. With the increase, the amount for water would increase to $11.49 and $24.84 for sewer.
The refuse collection fee price is proposed as $15 a month for residential and $25 per month for business.
Elkton’s previous mayor, Wayne Printz, was the only one to speak during the water and sewer hearing and made comments on the budget and changes as a whole.
“Where is the hundreds of thousands of dollars in waste treatment reimbursements? Why was the refinancing of our loans not completed, saving almost $400,000? Where are the rebates from electric?” he asked.
He said the capital is impacted significantly by how the mayor and council performs.
“The train wreck comes when the political capital is eroding so quickly as it is now and these overbearing increases impact our families, seniors, fixed income and businesses so extensively,” he said.
Mayor Josh Gooden said in an interview Tuesday that he had a few residents inquire about the increase of real estate taxes in the weeks prior to the hearing.
“But the citizens I spoke with understand the need to have the upgrades to infrastructure that were prolonged for so many years,” he said.
Following the hearing, council held its meeting, which was a makeup from the rescheduled May 20 meeting.
At the meeting, a first read on the proposed 2019-20 budget was held.
The town-owned Elk Run Cemetery’s proposed budget is $59,490, which is $15,510 less than the 2018-19 fiscal year budget, according to town documents.
The Elkton Police Department’s proposed budget is $629,192, which is around $89,100 more than the current fiscal year.
Alexander said in a previous interview that the big-ticket items for the police department are a new vehicle, which will cost $45,000, camera systems for the cars and body cams for a total of $48,000.
The budget also shows that street maintenance expenses will add up to around $551,133 and the community center expenses will amount to around $411,498.
The electric budget will be $2,055,018 and the sewer will be $6,084,964.
Also at the meeting, council denied a request by the Bible Holiness Church of Elkton for a special-exception permit for a school to be located between the church and its fellowship hall.
Council members Steve America, Jeff Jones and Heidi Zander voted against the request. Randell Snow and Margaretta Isom voted in favor. Councilman Jay Dean was not present.
Since the area is zoned residential, the project would require the permit.
Council held a public hearing for the request on April 15.
Elkton resident Angel Price, who lives on East Washington Avenue, spoke during the hearing and also spoke at Monday’s meeting.
She said she, along with a number of other residents in the area, are concerned because the school would bring in more traffic using the entrance off Pine Street.
“We have no issue with them having the school, but we have lots of issues it’ll bring to East Washington, Pine Street and High Street,” Price said.
Council also unanimously voted in favor of not allowing residents or private organizations to rent out either of the town’s two bouncy houses unless council specifically votes otherwise.
Alexander said town staff have received a number of requests from residents wanting to rent out the bouncy houses.
She said the VML insurance said it was against the town renting out the bouncy house, but doesn’t prohibit it.
Alexander said the finance committee was also against the houses being rented out.
Staff recommended that council adopt a policy stating that the bouncy houses will only be used for town-sponsored events and won’t be rented out to residents or organizations unless council votes in a certain instance to allow the bouncy houses to be rented out for a specific event.
Council’s June 17 meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at the Elkton Area Community Center, 20593 Blue and Gold Drive.