City Releases Proposed Budget

New staff positions and facilities improvements are highlights of Gaithersburg’s proposed $66.5 million budget for fiscal 2017, which the city manager recently made public.

The fiscal 2017 budget represents a 2.5 percent decrease from fiscal 2016, mainly because of an administrative change related to how stormwater management fees are reported. Without that change, though, the proposal is a 2.6 percent or $1.7 million increase over last fiscal year.

City leaders said they welcome the input of residents on the proposals. A public budget hearing is scheduled for April 18, with work sessions on the calendar for April 25 and 26. The public record closes May 11.

One primary driver behind the spending increase comes from proposed funding for nine new positions in the city staff. During a Feb. 8 presentation to the Mayor and City Council, Gaithersburg City Manager Tony Tomasello said the city’s staff has been “running lean” for several years, and that new hires could help the city provide citizens with existing or enhanced services.

“We have a list of targeted (positions) we would like to propose,” Tomasello said. “We are an extremely lean organization. We don’t want to lose that. We’re not at any sort of breaking point, but I think the time has come to apply some of our funding to growing the personnel, or the staff, a little bit.”

Additionally, several construction projects are part of the plan. If the proposals are adopted, the city will begin construction on the park plaza in the city’s Olde Towne section, complete the design for a new city police station, replace the roof of City Hall, and move forward with renovations of the city’s miniature golf park as well as renovation plans for the water park.

The budget also proposes buying and taking steps to preserve the buildings of Crown Farm.

In a letter addressed to city leaders and citizens, Tomasello noted the proposal does not contain any tax increases. “I am happy to report that, once again, no tax increase is being proposed,” he wrote. “We are proud that one of the benefits of our long tradition of fiscal responsibility is that we have only raised the real property tax rate once in over 40 years. The rate would remain at $0.262 per $100 of assessed value. We continue to enjoy what is arguably the best overall financial position of any municipality in the state, despite having one of the lowest property tax rates.”

For more on the budget proposals, visit the City of Gaithersburg’s website at www.gaithersburgmd.gov/government/budget-and-strategic-planning/2017-budget.

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