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Rockville proposes four percent budget increase

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Published on: Thursday, March 21, 2013

By Holden Wilen

ROCKVILLE - City staff made its first presentation of the $112 million total operating budget for fiscal year 2014 at the mayor and council meeting Monday night. The proposed budget represents a 4.5 percent increase over last year’s budget.

The proposed general fund is $67.4 million which is an increase of 3.2 percent from 2013. Taxpayers support the general fund through property taxes, fines and forfeitures. Property tax revenue will rise to $36 million as a result of the three-percent assessment increase announced in January, anticipated new property assessments and pending assessment appeals. Property tax rates will remain unchanged. Fines and forfeitures are projected to increase by $1.2 million as a result of new red-light cameras with upgraded technology to capture right-turn-on-red violations.

As a result of the projected revenue increases city will not have to raise taxes, which Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio said, “is terrific.”

The capital improvements program includes new funding of $24.1 million which increases the total for the program to $67.45 million. The CIP will support 47 projects in 2014, including pedestrian safety initiatives, upgrades to sewer and stormwater management and many others. The Stonestreet Pedestrian Bridge was not included in the budget.

The city will hold public hearings for the budget at the mayor and council meetings on April 1, 15 and 29. Residents may also submit comments about the budget directly to the mayor and council through a link on the city’s website or through the city clerk’s office. The public record will remain open until May 13, and the tentative date for adoption of the budget ordinance is May 20.

During the meeting Marcuccio also urged residents to apply to become a part of the newly formed financial advisory board. The board will have five members and review the mayor and council’s budget, financial reports, audits and advise on other financial matters.

“It’s a new approach to trying to look at some of our financial issues and maybe get some input from sources other than what we’ve had in the past,” Marcuccio said.

Finally, Craig Graby of the Hay Group, the city's actuary, presented the findings from a study on the city’s retirement pension plan. Graby said the study found the pension plan to be conservative relative to other jurisdictions’ plans, thus saving the city money. The plan’s projected cost for 2014 is $2.04 million. Graby also said the mayor and council made a wise decision in 2011 by creating a new benefit tier with higher retirement ages, higher early retirement ages, longer vesting and increased penalties for early withdrawal of benefits because people these days are working longer into their lives.

“What I think this has shown is we came up with a plan in 1986 that others wish they had in place,” Chief Financial Officer Gavin Cohen said. “Our plan is conservative, and we should be appreciative of that.”

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