Fort Meade Tax Rate and Budget Approved Again After State Identified Problems


Published: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 11:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 11:26 p.m.

FORT MEADE | Commissioners in Fort Meade took about six minutes Monday night to approve the city's 2012-13 property tax rate and budget — again.

The commission held a special meeting expressly to approve the budget and tax rate more than a month after both went into effect. Documents certifying the commission's actions will be forwarded to the state, and Fort Meade will escape the threat of losing its state funding.

Commissioners already had approved the $11.4 million budget and property tax rate in September. But a problem surfaced earlier this month, after the state discovered three issues with the city's paperwork.

In the ordinance setting the property tax rate, Fort Meade hadn't included the percentage increase in the tax when compared with last year's rate. When publishing the proposed budget, as required by state law, the city failed to include the amount of reserve money in its enterprise funds. Finally, the city didn't send the completed documents to the state by the deadline.

City Manager Fred Hilliard said the first two issues were oversights. As for the third, he said, the deputy city clerk, who would have sent the documentation to the state, was terminated after the commission approved the budget and tax rate but before the documents were due.

"That just fell through the cracks," Hilliard said.

After years of marginal increases or none at all, Fort Meade raised its property tax rate 68.5 percent this year to $5.65 for every $1,000 in assessed property value. Hilliard said that hike, coupled with the tardy filing, may have attracted closer scrutiny by the state.

Commissioners approved the higher tax rate and $11.4 million budget Monday night with no comment from the public. In September, a handful of residents turned out to question the higher tax rate.

[ Suzie Schottelkotte can be reached at suzie.schottelkotte@theledger.com or 863-533-9070. ]

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