Wednesday, March 12, 2014 5:55 AM
Published on: Thursday, February 14, 2013
By Holden Wilen
ROCKVILLE – Real property tax assessments in Rockville for 2014 increased by approximately three percent from 2013, according to the fiscal year 2014 budget preview presented to the city’s Mayor and Council Monday evening.
The three-percent increase of $950,000 was not anticipated, as properties reassessed in January 2012 decreased in value by approximately four percent. According to Councilmember Tom Moore, the three-percent hike likely decreases the need for an increase in the property tax rate.
The preview of the 2014 budget also revealed the average resident will likely pay $98.38 more each year, or an increase of $6.81 each month for water, sewer, refuse, and stormwater management services. The water usage rates are estimated to increase by 20 percent. The current quarterly charge for three-quarter inch water meter is $12.15. The increased charges would go into effect in July 2013.
“We’re making it difficult for some of our citizens to stay in the city,” Councilmember Bridget Donnell Newton said. “It concerns me we’re not giving our citizens lots of notice and us up here to ascertain the impact. We need to be very careful with what we’re doing with our utility funds.”
The Mayor and Council also discussed changes in the 2014 budget which would affect some of the city’s art programs.
City manager Barbara Matthews suggested personnel changes for 2014. One of the suggestions was to eliminate two positions in recreation and parks. The elimination of these positions would result in the elimination of the Rockville Youth Orchestra. The Mayor and Council also discussed whether the Rockcrest Recreation Center should be renovated for $90,000, or abandoned. Abandoning the building would result in the elimination of city’s ballet program. Councilmember Mark Pierzchala said he hates cutting things affecting citizens.
“We need to look long and hard at things affecting teens,” Pierzchala said.
The city’s finance department also presented a financial report to the Mayor and Council reviewing the second quarter of fiscal year 2013. According to the report, red-light camera revenues are now projected to bring in $1.9 million in revenue—an increase of $1.26 million from the original budgeted amount of $637,500.
The increase in revenues comes from the city’s installation of five new red-light cameras in August 2012, which capture right-turn-on-red violations and an initial hike in the number of citations. Representatives from the finance staff told the Mayor and Council, however, not expect the same amount of revenue in the future because they said the red-light cameras are working because the number of citations is already decreasing.
During the meeting the Mayor and Council discussed recommended changes for elections with representatives from the Rockville Board of Supervisors of Elections. Some of the changes discussed were fixing the voter database, the withdrawal deadline for candidates and the reporting date for campaign finances.
The Mayor and Council decided to continue the discussion at a later meeting.
Posted By: Just an Opinion On: 2/18/2013
Title: Just tax me to death
Okay Rockville, you have now chased many people out of the City. Barbara Matthews suggested personnel changes (two positions in recs and parks). Why not just reduce the positions by attrition and retirement. Much easier and you just might find out that elimination of the Rockville Youth Orchestra is a huge mistake. Our children have no culture now; take away more DUH! Same goes for the City's Ballet Program. Little girls (and boys) need to take some form of the arts if not an instrument then dance. Orchestra and dance provide structure and discipline; much of which is not given at home. I agree with Councilmember Pierzchala. It not only affects teens but all youth. Remember this, the more activities both team sports and music and arts keeps children occupied instead of running the streets. That is a proven fact. Children who participate in extra-curricular activities have higher grades and less problems. Think long and hard about this one people.
Red light cameras, take them and put them in a dark hole. City of Rockville, I understand that several cameras, since you switched vendors, are not in compliance. Stopping on the white line and having the camera take a pix - no way is that fair. All the cameras do is raise revenue which you will definitely lose over time. People learn where the cameras are and avoid them. So City of Rockville, you will eventually loose money on them. Just my opinion.