by James Rada, Jr.
Dog Park Open
The Emmitsburg dog park officially opened on Saturday, May 5, with thirty-plus dogs in attendance. The park—near the town tennis courts—has separate areas for large and small dogs. The park also includes water stations for the dogs and benches for the dog owners to rest on while their pets romp and play.
“It looked like everybody had a good time, including dogs and people,” said Commissioner Joseph Ritz, III.
Community Deputy Contract Approved
The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved a contract with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office to continue the use of community deputies in Emmitsburg. The $276,403 contract increased by 3.15 percent or $8,712 over the current contract. The increase is due to anticipated salary increases for sheriff’s deputies and increasing fuel costs.
Commissioners Receive Budget
At the beginning of May, the Emmitsburg Commissioners got their first look at the fiscal year 2019 budget, and continued to review it during a second meeting in May. The property tax rate to fund this budget is expected to remain the same at 36 cents per $100 of assessed value.
The proposed budget includes a 5 percent increase to the general fund, which represents an increase of $88,080. The water and sewer fund is projected to increase by 2.63 percent due to expected residential and commercial development. Staff will also receive a 2 percent cost-of-living raise. Mayor Don Briggs pointed out that staff did not receive any COLA this year.
The final budget needs to be approved by the end of June.
Commissioners Begin Review of Ethics Code
Emmitsburg Town Manager Cathy Willets presented the mayor and commissioners an overview of the town’s ethics code and appeal procedures. The code helps “assure the people of the impartiality and independent judgment of officials and employees,” Willets said. This is a routine review with no major changes expected. Town staff will be making some recommendations for changes for simplifying the code and process.
Clock Erected on Town Square
A new four-sided clock has been erected on the town square as part of the square revitalization project. The clock is on the northeast corner of East Main Street and North Seton Avenue intersection.
FY 2018 Budget Introduced
In May, the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners received the proposed budget for the town for fiscal year 2018.
It is proposed to increase the town’s property tax rate by 3 cents to 31.41 cents per $100 of assessed value. The tax rate increase will generate $161,152 more in revenue to fund the budget.
Under the proposed budget, the general fund revenues are expected to be $3,876,040, with $3,643,679 in expenditures and $89,612 in capital expenses.
The water fund is expected to have $973,965 in revenues, with $847,093 in expenditures and $61,600 in capital expenses.
The wastewater fund is expected to have $1,623,326 in revenues, with $1,457,570 in expenditures and $135,436 in capital expenses.
The electric fund is expected to have $6,445,357 in revenues, with $6,210,464 in expenditures and $165,700 in capital expenditures.
Copies of the budget can be viewed at the town office or online at the town’s website.
Town Plans Summer Day Camp for Youths
Thurmont Chief Administrative Officer told the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners the result of the town survey about interest in a summer day camp program in the Community Park. The results of the survey were used to put together a plan for what to offer residents, the ages participants can be in the program, and the cost of the program.
The summer program “A Day in the Park” runs from July 23-26 and July 30-August 2 (Monday through Thursday), from 8:30 a.m.-noon each day. The program is for youths, ages five to fifteen, and costs $10.00 per day or $35.00 per week.
“We have a lot of parents who ask about this, and they’ve asked for several years,” said Mayor John Kinnaird.
The activities include meeting fire and EMS personnel, hiking, history talks, games, crafts, and sports.
Summer Park Coordinator Deb Spalding told the mayor and commissioners that the program is “one where we’re going to learn about Thurmont. We’re going to learn about parks, and we’re going to have fun in parks.”
You can register for individual days or entire weeks. Registration can be done at the town office or by calling 301-271-7313 to have a form sent to you. Each pre-registered participant receives a t-shirt and a reusable water bottle.
Commissioners Approve ADA Curbs
The Town of Thurmont has started to improve the curbs at many locations in town so that they are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The town received a Community Development Block Grant for $63,000. This will not be enough to add forty-eight ramps at eighteen locations throughout the town, but it should get the majority of them done. Town staff has prioritized each curb based on the amount of pedestrian traffic it receives.
“I think we can certainly accomplish our goals by meeting the higher-pedestrian-traffic areas,” Chief Administrative Officer James Humerick said.
The mayor and commissioners approved RFP, Inc. in Middletown to do the work. If more CDBG funds become available, they will go towards improving additional curbs.
Police Car Bomber Pleads Guilty
The man who bombed a Thurmont police vehicle in 2016 recently pleaded guilty to malicious use of explosive material in a Baltimore federal court. Kyle Rutger Mueller placed a pipe bomb on Thurmont Police Officer Tim Duhan’s SUV. The resulting explosion damaged the vehicle, but no one was injured.
Both federal and local officers investigated and arrested Rutger on August 5, 2016. In his plea agreement, Rutger admitted to buying parts to build a bomb and being in the area of the explosion.
Although facing four bomb-related charges, Rutger only pleaded guilty to the one charge under the plea agreement. Rutger could serve up to twenty years in federal prison and face a $250,000 fine and supervised probation, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office will recommend a ten-year sentence. Sentencing will be on July 30, 2018.