Rockville City Council Recap: Service Cuts, Constant Property Tax Rate Considered in Budget Preview
The council approved changes to Town Center zoning approval and a Financial Advisory Board.
The City of Rockville’s finance department offered a preview Monday of the budget for fiscal 2014, which begins July 1.
The city’s approved general fund budget for fiscal year 2013 is $65.3 million.
Most of the focus of the discussion was on proposed cuts to programs, services and construction projects. Some of the initial ideas were:
- Eliminating the equivalent of seven full-time positions—attained by not filling already vacant positions and moving employees into other roles within the city. As proposed, this could mean the demise of the Rockville Youth Orchestra and less city involvement in community programs.
- Spending $90,000 to fund a roof repair and renovations to Rockcrest Recreation Center, which houses the city’s ballet program.
- Considering whether the city should spend $1.19 million to repair the Stonestreet pedestrian bridge or spend less to make improvements to the area without replacing the bridge.
- Considering whether the city wants to pay the county $45,000 to paint Ride On buses on the Rockville-serving No. 45 route so that they include the city’s name. The county plans to replace the route's six buses this summer.
- Higher utility bills—an average of about $98 a year more, or about $7 extra each month.
At prior meetings, city staff had said there would be an estimated $2.6 million gap between expenditures and general fund revenues if the property tax rate were not increased.
But on Monday, staff proposed leaving the city’s property tax rate level, at 29.2 cents per $100 of assessed value, and said the city saw an unexpected 3 percent increase in property tax assessment values.
There was also the potential for more state money for police and transportation related projects, according to a city report.
An overview of the second budget preview is posted at on the city's website.
A formal budget isn’t expected to be introduced until March 18, with several public hearings scheduled before the council adopts a budget in May.
In other council news:
Zoning amendment approved: More scrutiny for performance district projects
The City Council approved, on a 4-1 vote, a zoning ordinance requiring that projects in Rockville Town Center’s performance district obtain approval from the Planning Commission or the Mayor and Council. Councilman Tom Moore cast the opposing vote. The amendment would eliminate the process, in the case of Town Center projects, by which smaller projects needed only the city planning chief’s approval. Read the full story here.
Financial Advisory Board approved
The council unanimously approved the creation of a Financial Advisory Board, which is intended to increase citizen input on the city’s budget and finances. The approval included language specifying that the board would consult with the finance department.
No meeting Monday
The council will not meet on Feb. 18, in observation of President’s Day.