Berlin Cuts Brings $337K Decrease To Current Budget

BERLIN – Cost-cutting efforts by town of Berlin staff have led to a current fiscal year budget decrease of $337,456, Administrator Tony Carson reported to the Berlin Mayor and Council Monday night.

The council formally amended the budget Monday night to reflect the decreases in the current spending plan.            Towns rarely decrease budgets in mid-year, according to Carson. 

Carson asked Berlin’s department heads to look for reductions in current year budgets shortly after he took over the town administrator post in late December, in a move consistent with other jurisdictions in the area.

“They did a good job,” Mayor Gee Williams said.

“Each department head brought these to us,” said Carson. “They have to be confident in what they brought forward and they were.”

An extra benefit, said Williams, is that it helps Berlin’s several new department heads to understand budget expectations ahead of the next budget process.

When the budget process begins for the next fiscal year in late March, general fund departments will submit their budgets to the mayor for review. Utilities like water, wastewater, and electric will submit budgets to the Berlin Utilities Commission first. The department and utility budgets would be submitted to the entire town council from there.

The town council questioned only two cuts.

Council member Paula Lynch asked about reductions in road and sidewalk repair line items.

“I think we’re taking a huge chance with the reduction you’re making,” Lynch said.

About $5,000 was trimmed from each line item in question, said Finance Director Jo-Ellen Mason-Foley, leaving over $20,000 in each.

The Maryland State Highway Administration also provides funds for sidewalks on state roads running through town, said Public Works Director Mike Gibbons.

The public works department also transferred $67,000 in unspent salary funding from two unfilled positions to purchase garbage containers for use with a new automated garbage truck.

The 95-gallon garbage cans will be provided to every Berlin residence at no cost. Staff is working on a policy covering replacement garbage cans in event of damage, which will probably include a replacement fee, Carson said.