But they had disagreements on a proposed rise in water rates.
Frederick, Md (KM) Unanimous approval was granted Thursday night by the Frederick Board of Aldermen to a fiscal year 2018 budget. The operating and capital budgets, along with special funds and enterprise funds, total $149.6-million.
They also adopted the property tax rate of $.7305 per $100 of assessed value, and $1.55 per $100 of assessed value for business property. This rate remains unchanged from fiscal year 2017.
Both the budget and the tax rate take affect on July 1st.
But the Aldermen had disagreements over a proposal to raise the water rates by 3%. The increase has been proposed by Mayor Randy McClement to pay for state-mandated upgrades to the city’s water and wastewater treatment plants. Alderman Phil Dacey is opposed. “The $54-million wastewater treatment plant upgrade I did vote against. I don’t support to this day. I don’t think it provides the benefits of $54-million dollars to the city of Frederick. I think we could have gotten a better deal from the state,” he says.
Alderman Jose Bokee agreed. “While a 3% rate increase each year does not necessarily seem like a lot to a lot of folks, that still falls disproportionately to those who are on fixed incomes, including seniors, and others on limited incomes,” he said.
“There’s always discussion of taking money from the general fund to cover the water and sewer fund. That’s what you guys are talking about,” Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak responded. “You can shake your heads no all you want. That is what you’re talking about. The money has to come from somewhere.”
Alderwoman Kelly Russell also had similar comments. “It is unfortunate that as a utility, water rates have to go up. Electricity goes up. Gas goes up. Oil goes up. It’s a utility, and it has to be paid for,” she said.
Water and sewer rate payments go into an enterprise fund which funds the operations of these two services. It’s not part of the general fund.
The Aldermen voted 3-2 to raise the water rate with members Josh Bokee and Phil Dacey in opposition.
They also approved ordinances to establish a master schedule of administrative and regulatory fees, and one to establish employee positions, grades and civilian pay scales for fiscal year 2018. Elected officials also okayed a resolution concerning parking violations and a schedule of fees. \
By Kevin McManus