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Laurel Park to hold hearing on roadwork-heavy budget

Laurel Park Mayor Carey O’Cain discusses the need to fund road improvement projects in the town during a budget meeting in May. Laurel Park Mayor Carey O’Cain discusses the need to fund road improvement projects in the town during a budget meeting in May.

A need to improve the quality of roads in town is prompting Laurel Park to consider a 2023-2024 budget more than 20 percent higher than its current budget.

The proposed $7.38 million budget for 2023-2024 is 22 percent higher than the town’s current budget of $6 million.

Although the proposed budget lowers the tax rate to 39.5 cents per $100 of property valuation — 4 cents lower than the current rate — the new levy would be 8.5 cents above the revenue neutral rate of 31. This year’s countywide reappraisal of property values raised real property values countywide by an average of 48 percent.

“The biggest consideration is we’re spending money on roads,” Laurel Park Town Manager Alex Carmichael said.

The Town Council will hold a public hearing on the budget at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, June 15 at the Agudas Israel Congregation, 505 Glasgow Lane. Written public comments may be submitted to the town clerk by 4 p.m. Wednesday, June 14. A copy of the draft budget is available upon request.

The budget the council will consider carries forward the town’s streets project from 2023. The proposed budget includes $1,672,720 for roadwork in Laurel Park and will be funded through previous appropriations, 6 cents of the proposed property tax rate and $200,000 from the town’s reserves, according to Carmichael.

The recommended spending plan also appropriates $742,565 in American Rescue Plan money that the town has not yet used, funding culvert and stormwater infrastructure repair.

Fire protection in Laurel Park will likely cost more in the coming year even though Valley Hill Fire and Rescue is to be funded at a lower rate of 9 cents of the proposed 39.5 cents tax rate. Under the current budget, 10 cents of the tax rate fund the town’s fire protection contract with Valley Hill.

   Property values in Laurel Park increased as a result of the recent county-wide reappraisal of property. As a result, Valley Hill Fire and Rescue will receive about $130,000 more than the current year, a 29.25 percent increase.

The proposed budget also includes cost-of-living and merit pay increases for town employees. During a budget workshop in May, a few Laurel Park residents said they were concerned about paying higher taxes and urged the council to find cuts in the budget that would reduce the proposed tax rate while keeping needed projects.