BERLIN – Town officials formally approved an $18.2 million budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
On Monday the Berlin Town Council voted unanimously to adopt a $18,183,596 budget for fiscal year 2019. Though primarily the same as the document introduced in May, the budget was adjusted to increase funding to the Berlin Fire Company.
“In the last month we’ve continued to have budget discussions with the Berlin Fire Company,” Mayor Gee Williams said. “They’ve been productive… I feel we’ve begun the process of having a close working relationship in all matters but particularly with those matters in regard to finances.”
In May, the town introduced a $17,963,594 budget that represented a 5.74 percent decrease over the current year’s spending plan. Since then, however, officials have met with fire company representatives and Williams said this week the town had agreed to increase funding to the agency. The fire company, which was set to receive $400,000 in the budget initially proposed, will now receive a total of $605,000 in the new fiscal year. That funding, the mayor stressed, was contingent on a contract for services between the town and the fire company.
A contract for services was one of the recommendations in a Berlin Fire Company funding study presented by Matrix Consulting Group earlier this year. The study also identified that the town accounted for the majority of the fire company’s service but funded less than 30 percent of its annual budget.
Williams said that in addition to the bump in funding for the fire company, the town would set aside $10,000 in the new budget for “part two” of the fire company funding study. Though the specifics of the study haven’t yet been addressed, Williams said it would be “drilling down” on a few of the issues identified in the initial study.
Along with the additional funding for the Berlin Fire Company, the budget approved this week includes an extra $5,000 for Atlantic General Hospital’s Campaign for the Future. Though the town’s $100,000 commitment to the campaign has not changed, Williams said that by paying $25,000 this year, as opposed to $20,000, the town could meet its funding commitment in four years rather than five years.
“It doesn’t change the total it just accelerates the payment out by one year,” he said.
In spite of the two late changes the town’s fiscal year 2019 budget is still 4.58 percent lower than the current year’s budget. The general fund accounts for most of the town’s spending—$7,154,405—while the town’s electric department will have a budget of $5.7 million the coming year. The town’s water budget is $1.1 million while sewer accounts for $2.6 million and stormwater $1.6 million. In all the fiscal year 2019 budget is $873,712 less than the town’s current $19,057,309 budget. The approved budget is available on the town’s website, berlinmd.gov.