by James Rada, Jr.
Town Joins Mass Tort Action
The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to participate in a mass tort complaint against manufacturers of the PFAS chemicals that Thurmont and other municipalities are now working to remove from their water systems. The town’s vote is to retain a law firm to investigate, file case, and litigate on behalf of the town. The goal is to get the manufacturers to cover some of the costs that municipalities must pay to remove dangerous chemicals from the water.
Thurmont To Get An App
The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved funding for a new app that will allow visitors and residents to conduct business with the town and find out tourism information, among other things. The town will also be getting an updated video that is used to promote the town through social media. The cost of the app will be $29,715, and the cost of the new video will cost $14,425. Most of this will be paid for with two grants from the Department of Housing and Community Development. The difference of $4,140 will be paid for with hotel/motel tax that the town receives.
Program Open Space Money Awarded
The Town of Thurmont received funding for three of the five projects it wanted sought through Program Open. The town put forth $443,000 in project funding requests. The town received $67,500 for the Gateway Trail access and amenities, $67,500 for the expansion of the East End Dog Park, and $45,000 for the Mountain Gate Trail.
A request of $99,000 for Eyler Road Park pickleball courts was not funded.
The town did receive partial funding of $35,000 of the $225,000 for the Eyler Road Park parking lot. However, due to how soon the funding must be used and when the town’s portion needs to be ended, it was decided that it would be better if the town returned the funds to allow them to be used by other Frederick County municipalities.
Commissioners Set Tax Rate
The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to maintain its current tax rate of .3206 per $100 of assessed value, although this was higher than the constant-yield rate. The constant-yield rate of .3113 per $100 of assessed value is the rate the town would have had to set to collect the same amount of tax revenue as it did this year. However, increasing property assessments means that if the town kept its existing rate, it would collect $58,125 more in Fiscal Year 2024, which begins on July 1. This is expected to cost taxpayers about $25-$30 more per household.
Town Approves Budget
The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved its budget for Fiscal Year 2024, which went into effect on July 1. The budgets approved are the general fund of $5,018,075; the water fund of $1,060,300; the wastewater fund of $1,752,800; and the electric fund of $6,111,080.
Board Passes FY2024 Budget
The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners passed the FY2024 town budget. The general fund is projected to increase 6 percent to $2,181,496.
The water fund is expected to decrease 8 percent this year to $680,801. The sewer fund is expected to increase by 7 percent to $1,018,155. A new stormwater management business fund is expect to be $15,000.
The property tax rate is proposed to remain at 34.64 cents per $100 of assessed value. A 4 percent COLA is also proposed for employee salaries.
The commissioners were reluctant to vote on the budget without learning whether they can change their accounting practices to remove items from the enterprise funds, in particular the water fund, and have them paid for from the general fund. While such a change would make the enterprise fund smaller, it would increase the general fund so that, overall, the taxpayer would see no difference in what they pay.
The commissioners expect to meet later this summer with the town’s lawyer and a representative from the auditing firm to see what can be done.
Sewer Rate Moratorium Enacted
The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners voted to approve to delay the increase of the new sewer rates for a year so as to not overburden residents who will be having to deal with a large water rate increase. The town’s sewer fund is not as underfunded as the water fund, so it was decided the sewer rate increase could be delayed.
The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved a bid from Fox & Associates of Frederick for $251,056 for the engineering improvement plan and design bid for North Seton Avenue water line and green street project. The entire cost of the project is expected to be $1,145,552, of which 25 percent will be paid for with a grant from the Maryland Water Infrastructure Financing Administration. The remainder will be paid for with a loan from the same organization.
The town will also submit a Community Development Block Grant request for the DePaul Street water line. The entire cost of this project will be $1,120,000, of which they are requesting $552,500 in a CDBG grant. Other grants are expected to pay nearly all of the remaining cost, although the town is expected to provide $10,000 in in-kind funding.
New Grants Awarded
The Town of Emmitsburg recently received a TRIPP Advertising Grant for $7,333.32 to advertise Emmitsburg as a tourism destination on three billboards in the Gettysburg area and Destination Gettysburg and Visit Frederick annual guides.
The town also received a $10,000 grant from the FCTC, Main Street Cooperative Fund for new “Welcome to Emmitsburg” signs at the entrances to the town. This is expected to cost $5,000. The remaining money will go toward purchasing new parking meters. From