The Rockville City Council on Monday adopted a roughly $107 million operating budget and $70 million capital budget for fiscal 2013.
The vote was unanimous but was preceded by a lengthy debate about spending and the prospect of tax increases in fiscal 2014.
The council’s final budget discussion included approval of a 2 percent salary increase for city staff, with a 1 percent salary increase for 13 senior staff members. Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio, backed by Councilwoman Bridget Donnell Newton, made the proposal for the first time on Monday.
The council also approved another Marcuccio proposal that shifts $17,990 from the Rockville Emergency Assistance Program fund to several community caregiver agencies as follows:
- $7,000 to Elderly Ministries.
- $4,900 to Rockville Housing Enterprises’ Game Night.
- $3,940 to the Mansfield Kaseman Health Clinic.
- $1,500 to Stepping Stones Shelter.
- $650 to Rainbow Place Shelter.
“This does not cause the budget to have any changes whatsoever other than the shifting of REAP money to these particular units,” Marcuccio said.
REAP is the only caregiver program with an associated special revenue account in the city budget, city community services manager Carlos E. Aparicio wrote in a May 8 memo to acting city manager Jennifer Kimball. That allows the city to carry over unused funds from year to year, Aparicio wrote.
Council members Mark Pierzchala and Tom Moore opposed the salary increases, saying the city cannot afford them given the current tax rate and the projections of decreasing property tax revenues in the coming year.
“We, I think, made a reckless decision to add to the permanent salary costs to the city without any way to pay for it,” said Moore, who proposed a 3.6 percent salary increase for city staff with a commensurate 2.6 percent tax increase. That proposal failed on a 4 to 1 vote.
The spending plan for fiscal 2013, which begins July 1, maintains the real property tax rate of 29.2 cents per $100 of assessed value for all properties. But council members have warned that in order to balance the budget in fiscal 2014.
With the council’s decision “a possible $2 million deficit has become a $2.3 million deficit,” Moore said. “I’ve been concerned about the [fiscal] 2014 budget all the way along here. My concern has gotten deeper here tonight. I don’t think it’s anything we can’t take care of next year, but we’ve just made our job a lot harder.”
Pierzchala said he found it “very disturbing” that the council would make budget changes so late in the process without knowing the full ramifications or knowing how the city would pay for the pay increases in the future.
Pierzchala said that while the budget process had been “great” for the majority of the budget season, he was “more than dissatisfied with the last two weeks. I am actually shocked. I better not say anything further.”
New REDI director
Laurie Boyer was introduced Monday as the new executive director of Rockville Economic Development, Inc.
“Rockville has a lot of great things going on and I think a lot of potential,” said Boyer, who was on her first day on the job with the city’s nonprofit economic development agency.
“I want to assure you that we have a wonderful, dynamic woman coming to us,” said Pierzchala, who serves as an ex officio member of the REDI board. Boyer was the board’s unanimous choice, he said.
In March, Boyer was named one of The Daily Record’s 2012 “Maryland’s Top 100 Women.”
In an interview last year with The Daily Record’s Nick Sohr, Boyer discussed the challenges of attracting businesses to Frederick County.
Sally Sternbach , when she became deputy director of the county’s Department of Economic Development. She looked back on her tenure in a series of articles on Rockville Patch earlier this year.
Council narrows its city manager search
The Rockville City Council has narrowed its search for a city manager to three finalists, acting city manager Jennifer Kimball said.
Kimball did not name the finalists.
The finalists have been invited to meet with the council, senior city staff and the public on June 1 and June 2. Residents are invited to a community reception from 3 to 5 p.m. on June 2 at the to meet the candidates and provide input for the council to consider in their selection.
Rockville operates under a council-manager form of government. The city manager provides management and administrative support for the day-to-day business of the city, including carrying out policy enacted by the City Council.
Kimball has on Dec. 2.
Richmond, VA-based Springsted, Inc. is conducting the search for a new city manager under a $20,800 contract with the city.