The Bel Air Town Commissioners have unanimously approved a tentative $14.8 million budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
“We're proposing to maintain the same level of services as in the past; everything will be relatively level,” said Director of Finance Lisa Moody.
Town Administrator Chris Schlehr and Moody elaborated on the budget for the commissioners during the town's Monday night meeting, emphasizing that most town operating expenditures would not see dramatic increases or decreases.
Mike Jones, 52, was the only person to speak when the commissioners called for public comment. Jones, owner of an office building at 222 Gateway Drive, was polite yet assertive as he questioned the logic of excluding local commercial businesses from trash collection services.
“My question is, how can we get the same service that condominiums have,” Jones asked the commissioners.
Although Commissioner David E. Carey could not provide an answer that satisfied Jones, the property owner said he is confident he will get a more definite answer at a later date. “They'll give me an answer in writing at some point,” said Jones.
The agenda then moved to a discussion and vote on Ordinance 742, a proposal to remove the ban on fortune-telling in Bel-Air, and Ordinance 741, a proposal on how possible fortune-telling establishments will be zoned.
“Fortune telling must be 1,000 feet away from any school,” Director of Planning Kevin L. Small told the commissioners while elaborating on zoning stipulations. After Small's presentation, the commissioners unanimously accepted Ordinance 741 and 742 for consideration. The fate of fortune-telling in Bel-Air will be decided in a public hearing scheduled for May 2.
“All citizens can comment on fortune-telling at that time,” said Small. “Since fortune-telling is protected by the 1st Amendment, the town code will change to reflect that.”
Earlier in the evening, two local students were recognized and a pair of Bel Air police officers were promoted.
“I was so excited to have received the award, I didn't think I'd win,” said Madeline Smith, 11, who added that she liked school except for the “homework part."
Smith, a fifth-grader at St. Margaret's, was honored along with John Carroll School senior Patrick Toner.
Bel Air police officers Timothy S. Roberts and Jeffrey Castelow received promotions to Officer First Class.