FROSTBURG — The Frostburg mayor and city council have voted to adopt a $9.7 million budget for fiscal year 2014 and to keep open an alley that many citizens feared would be closed by the city.
The budget, adopted last week, consists of a corporate fund balance of $4.2 million.
In 2014, rounding out its revenues, Frostburg expects to collect $1.1 million from water bills, $1.7 million in water surcharge fees, $2.3 million from sewer charges and $383,500 in garbage collection fees.
“There will be no increases in additional taxes or utility fees. However, we may need to do a mid-year evaluation of the sewer charges based on what Cumberland does,” said John Kirby, city administrator.
The city of Cumberland, which is facing a $1.2 million deficit in its sewer fund, is in the process of passing an ordinance to increase sewer charges by 20 percent as part of its 2014 budget package.
Frostburg, which has its sewage treated in Cumberland, will likely be affected by any increase.
Some savings will be seen in Frostburg’s sewer fund due to a less costly combined sewer overflow project for next year.
As with many municipalities, Frostburg is in a ten-year plan to remedy problems stemming from storm runoff and sewage combining during heavy rains creating pressure that can only be released by discharging affluent into streams and rivers.
The CSO project in 2014 will focus on the sewer and storm lines running from Maple Street across Center to Bowery.
“The portion of the plan that is being done is a less costly project that we were doing previously,” said Kirby.
Direct boosts to Frostburg’s corporate fund came in the way of $145,500 in Highway User Fees from the state, $88,400 in police protection grants and a savings of $115,000 by refinancing a plow truck.
Kirby estimates that the city will receive $150,000 from hotel/motel taxes in 2014.
The city will retain $59,000 to cover costs from operating its parks and recreations department.
The remaining $91,000 will be dispersed to around 20 different activities and projects with the largest recipients being the Main Street program getting $49,000 and the Palace Theatre and Mountain Maryland Trails receiving $10,000 each.
The 2014 budget will also include a 50-cent salary increase for city employees.
It was also disclosed during the meeting Thursday that the mayor and city council will have plans drawn up to keep open Alley 24, which connects Main Street and First Street by running beside the Pritchard Building.
“We will keep the alley open and we will maintain it,” said Kirby.
Several residents who lived in the vicinity of the alley had written in or spoke at public meetings in favor of keeping the alley open.
The city had initially indicated it may close it based on a study that said the alley had a low traffic flow and presented potential safety hazards.
The council voted to have a concept drafted for the alley that will allow one-way vehicular traffic and the development on an American Disabilities Act compliant sidewalk.
Greg Larry can be contacted at email@example.com.