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Bel Air Passes Tentative FY 2013 Budget

The first public hearing for the proposed fiscal year 2013 budget took place during Monday's regularly scheduled town meeting.

Community input on the fiscal year 2013 budget began Monday with a public hearing.

The proposed FY 2013 of is more than $640,000 less than the FY 2012 budget, with many costs remaining stagnant for the coming year.

Tax rates within the town are expected to remain the same as set in 2004, according to . The real property tax rate is .50 cents per $100 of assessable real property and $1.16 per $100 of assessable personal property.

Included in the budget is $150,000 set aside for a traffic signal at Boulton Street and Gateway Drive as well as money for sidewalk improvements in town.

During the hearing, John Meeks of English Country Manor said he appreciates the money set aside for the traffic light and looks forward to its installation.

Meeks has long urged the board to install a traffic light at that intersection because of serious traffic problems there.

Meeks on the issue in February.

Bob Cassilly, former Bel Air commissioner, thanked the board for including funds for sidewalk improvements, but said Broadway, Franklin and Ellendale should be included on the list for improvements.

“We’re not looking so good over there,” Cassilly said.

He said Broadway gets a lot of foot traffic and at present is an eye-sore.

“It’s just pathetic,” Cassilly said of the well-traveled sidewalk along Broadway and approaching the MA & PA trail. “It would be great to see us investing in the sidewalk along that piece,” Cassilly said.

Cassilly also said he feels it is wrong for the town to spend more on parks and recreation facilities than the rest of the county.

The board approved the tentative budget with a unanimous vote. explained approving the tentative budget is not a final vote to pass the budget.

The next public hearing is scheduled to take place May 21.

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9:04 p.m.: The meeting is adjourned.

9:04 p.m.: Reier told Hruz to never underestimate his own eloquence. “A job well done,” Reier said.

9:03 p.m.: Commissioner Preston said the issue of group homes has been one of the most frustrating over the years because it is covered by federal law. “We do talk with our state legislators and I think that’s the way we need to go,” Preston said.

9:01 p.m.: Deborah Cassilly said she supports everything that his been said about group homes tonight. She recognizes there are legal road blocks, but there should be something done in the law to deal with the issue of density.

9:01 pm.: Hopkins said Hruz’s comments have not fallen on deaf ears and the town continues to look into the issue.

8:55 p.m.: “What good does it do even for them if the community does not look like a community?” he asked.

8:46 p.m.: “Six homes in two blocks? I mean seriously, come on,” he said.

8:43 p.m.: He said he has put hundreds of thousands into his home and these group homes decrease property values.

8:41 p.m.: I have befriended many residents and will continue to do so, but I fear for my community at the rapid growth of a non-community entity, he said.

8:40 p.m.: “If the next home opens it will be 48 resident patients to 42 Bel Air residents,” he said.

8:39 p.m.: We made the decision to move to our new home knowing there were three group homes in the area. Before they moved in, two more group homes were opened in the area.

8:38 p.m.: This location is very important to him and his family because it is in walking distance to the library, walking trails, concerts and groceries.

8:37 p.m.: He said he and his wife planned their family, planned to home school their children and chose to live in Bel Air.

8:35 p.m.: Rob Hruz echoed Cassilly and Sullivan’s comments. “Things are getting ugly where we live, rapidly, and I mean ugly in a sense of community.”

8:34 p.m.: Gail Sullivan said she is concerned about the number of group homes. “I think it’s very unfair for the people living in the area.”

8:33 p.m.: Cassilly’s comments were greeted with applause from the audience.

8:32 p.m.: Cassilly said it’s an important dynamic to preserve, and group homes are businesses and should not be clustered in one place and overrunning the community.

8:31 p.m.: “It’s a small town, you live next to your neighbors and you need those connections,” Cassilly said.

8:30 p.m.: Cassilly said it’s important to go to the businesses and explain. “You don’t establish a solid community with seven group homes within an eight block radius,” Cassilly said.

8:29 p.m.: Cassilly returned to the podium and said Cassilly there are six group homes within a block of his home and a proposal for another.

8:28 p.m.: The board votes unanimously in favor of approving the tentative budget.

8:28 p.m.: Carey explained this is not a vote to pass the budget, only to adopt it in order to move forward with the discussion.

8:27 p.m.: Burdette moves to adopt the tentative FY 2013 budget.

8:27 p.m.: The ordinance is introduced with a unanimous vote.

8:26 p.m.: The change is to accommodate garage townhouses, Director of Planning, Kevin Small, said.

8:23 p.m.: Commissioner Robert Preston moved to introduce the update for development regulations. St. Matthew’s Church is requesting an increased building height. A hearing on the ordinance is scheduled to take place May 21.

8:22 p.m.: The commissioners unanimously approve the bid.

8:20 p.m.: Commissioner Robert Reier introduces the proposal to award the AED bid for $6,314. The cost includes four units and staff training.

8:19 p.m.: The town nominated three individuals to the town ethics board. The motion to appoint carries unanimously.

8:18 p.m.: There are no other comments from the public or commissioners. The hearing is closed.

8:18 p.m.: “I don’t think we can afford to have sort of armpits in Bel Air, we have to build up all of Bel Air,” Cassilly said.

8:16 p.m.: “I am a huge believer in parks and rec, but I’ve never felt good about my kids paying more to use the parks and recs facilities than other kids in the county,” Cassilly said. Cassilly said Bel Air citizens paying extra tax money for Cedar Lane, a facility that’s only 5 or 8 miles out of town, is ridiculous.

8:15 p.m.: “It’s just pathetic,” Cassilly said of the well-traveled sidewalk along Broadway and approaching the MA & PA trail. “It would be great to see us investing in the sidewalk along that piece,” Cassilly said.

8:14 p.m.: Bob Cassilly said he appreciates the continued investment in sidewalks but said there are no items for Franklin, Ellendale and Broadway. “We’re not looking so good over there,” Cassilly said.

8:13 p.m.: John Meeks from English Country Manor said he appreciated the money set aside for the Boulton and Gateway traffic light and looks forward to its installation.

8:012 p.m.: Moody said expenditures are expected to decrease a little more than $1 million in FY 2013.

8:07 p.m.: Moody said the FY 2012 budget does not reflect the midyear adjustment.

8:06 p.m.: Director of Finance, Lisa Moody said the real property tax rate is proposed to remain the same at .50 cents.

8:05 p.m.: The total general fund expenditures for FY 2013 are $11,819216, Schlehr said.

8:02 p.m.: A traffic signal at Boulton and Gateway is budgeted for $150,000 in FY 2013.

7:58 p.m.: Police department, the town’s largest department, has a slight increase in expenses for FY 2013 in part due to equipment replacements.

7:56 p.m.: There is a slight cost decrease in the red light camera project for next year.

7:55 p.m.: General insurance costs are showing a $3,000 increase in FY 2013, an increase Schlehr calls minimal.

7:53 p.m.: Social security costs usually go up with salary, since there are no cost of living or salary increases thus far in the budget, there is minimal jump in that expense, Schlehr said.

7:52: p.m.: “Overall expenses are lower than fiscal year 2012,” Schlehr said.

7:52 p.m.: There is $50,000 in marketing set aside for FY 2013. This will include advertising Cedar Lane recreation facility.

7:50 p.m.: There is about an $18,000 increase in planning and zoning expenses due to additional projects.

7:49 p.m.: There will be a slight increase of $25 an hour for the town attorney.

7:47 p.m.: Capital improvements are planned at an expense of 151,200 and include replacement of a “sorely needed” generator.

7:46 p.m.: The overall cost for community events remains unchanged from FY 2012.

7:44 p.m.: The proposed general fund expenditures total $11.8 million.

7:42 p.m.: The budget for FY 2013 is more than 600,000 less than the 2012 budget, Schlehr said. The town will continue to maintain services.

7:42 p.m.: The tax rate remains the same as set in 2004.

7:41 p.m.: This is the first of two public hearings on the FY 2013 budget, the second will be in May, Schlehr said.

7:40 p.m.: Town Administrator Chris Schlehr introduces the budget and explains the tentative budget must be approved no later than this meeting, the second meeting in April.

7:38 p.m.: The appearance and beautification committee also recognizes Traband for all of his service.

7:38 p.m. “I have been the recipient of the good manners and loving kindness of the town of Bel Air, its staff and its community members,” Traband said.

7:36 p.m.: Traband has shared his agricultural knowledge with the town and community for 50 years.

7:35 p.m.: Commissioner Dave Carey invites Reg Traband to the podium for recognition.

7:33 p.m.: Commissioner Susan Burdette proclaims Wednesday, April 18 is Bel Air Arbor Day.

7:33 p.m.: “I think those are some of the best proclamations we always like to give,” Hopkins said.

7:31 p.m.: Hopkins invites Emma Olsen from St. Margaret School for presentation of the student achievement award.

7:30 p.m.: Mayor Edward Hopkins announces the public hearing for development is not scheduled to take place tonight, but rather next week.

7:29 p.m.: The meeting is called to order.

7:28 p.m.: The commissioners take their seats.

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