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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Berlin makes $17M budget public

(May 28, 2015) The Berlin Mayor and Council formally introduced the $17.1 million fiscal year 2016 budget during a public meeting on Tuesday.
This year’s budget marks an 11 percent increase over the $15.3 million dollar budget adopted during the previous year.
Of the staff’s work on the budget this year, Berlin Mayor Gee Williams said, “More time for sure, and possibly more effort, has been put into the preparation of this budget than any I have been associated with since first being elected to the town council in 2003.”
The budget is based on maintaining the town’s current property tax rate of 68 cents per $100 of valuation. The tax rate has remained steady for three consecutive years.
Residents will not experience increases in fees for town water, wastewater or stormwater, and will see a 3 percent reduction in electric bills from June 2015 through December 2017, thanks to a new purchase power agreement.
Also because of the agreement, the electric fund decreased 3 percent, down $147,241, to $5.5 million.
The general fund budget increased 10 percent, to $5.7 million, largely because of increasing impact fees on new residential development, state income tax revenues to the town, and increased highway user revenues from the State of Maryland, according to Williams.
Stormwater fund rose sharply because of a series of grants from the Department of Natural Resources, Housing and Urban Development and FEMA, which pushed the fund up 69 percent to $2.2 million, an increase of more than $900,000.
Finance Director Natalie Saleh said the town receives residential stormwater revenue of approximately $68,000 and commercial stormwater revenue of $90,000 annually.
“That revenue stream has been able to [produce] … over a million dollars in grants,” Williams said. “I think you don’t have to be a math wiz to know that the return on investment that we are making as a community ourselves is quite phenomenal.”
The stormwater increase is expected to pay for major stormwater projects on Flower Street, Williams Street, and Nelson Street, Grice Street and Franklin Avenue.
The water fund rose 16 percent, to $1 million, as a result of the increase in revenue from special connection fees generated by new developments, especially the new townhome expansion on Seahawk Road. Also tied to the expansion and increased revenue, wastewater revenue projections rose 18 percent to $2.6 million.
Under the budget, town employees will receive a 3 percent salary increase, and, for the fifth straight year, health insurance costs will not increase.
“As has been our course for several years, I believe the overall result of the fiscal ‘16 proposed town budget enables the town of Berlin to maintain a financially stable budget with continued incremental improvements in municipal services, while allowing the town to continue to invest in infrastructure and property to provide permanent benefits to the community in the future,” Williams said.
A public hearing on the budget will be held during a mayor and council meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 8 at town hall.