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Berlin adopts fiscal 2018 budget

(June 15, 2017) The Berlin Town Council on Monday unanimously approved a $19 million fiscal year 2018 budget. The new spending plan is the result of more than six months of work by the town staff and represents a 5.49 percent reduction from the previous budget of $20.1 million.
A public hearing on the package was opened and closed without comment.
The approved budget included a $7.7 million general fund, nearly 14 percent lower than the previous fiscal year. Three utility funds were higher —  electric ($5.5 million, 1.15 percent), water ($1.19 million, 15 percent) and sewer ($3 million, 21 percent). The stormwater fund, about $1.5 million, was 29 percent lower than the previous fiscal year’s spending.
Capital projects were budgeted at $4.59 million, a significant reduction over the $6 million in capital items approved last year.  
Finance Director Natalie Saleh said the major adjustment to the budget over the one introduced during a first reading three weeks ago was a $126,270 reduction in revenue related to a Community Parks and Playgrounds grant overseen by the Department of Natural Resources, Program Open Space.
The town applied for, but did not receive, funding that would have paid nearly the entire cost to install permanent restrooms at Stephen Decatur Park. The project was cut from the budget, cutting $137,250 from expenses.
Councilman Dean Burrell said he was disappointed the town did not budget for the restrooms – regardless of the outcome of the grant.
“We have kids using Port-a-Potties [at Stephen Decatur Park] and that’s a shame for here in the Town of Berlin,” he said.
Following the vote, Councilman Zack Tyndall asked that nonprofits applying for town grants do so by Jan. 1. Williams noted that several came in later than ever during the current cycle.
However, Williams, who is also the marketing director for the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, a public foundation that provides upwards of more than 1,500 grants each year across three counties, said he would hate to see a nonprofit excluded because it missed the deadline.
Many in the area, he said, operated with part-time executive directors and other constraints.
“Maybe there’s something where we can say we need to have that information by the work sessions [in March],” Williams said. “Let’s give it a shot and see what happens.”
Tyndall agreed, and Town Administrator Laura Allen said she would notify nonprofits who received grants from the town this year.