BERLIN, Md. – After months of discussion and debate, the Berlin Town Council approved the town’s budget for FY 2020, which includes property tax and fee increases.

The town council voted 4-1 to approve the $15.2 million budget.

The approved budget includes an 18 percent property tax increase. Town leaders originally floated a 34 percent increase. Mayor Gee Williams said the town was able to cut expenses to get that number down.

Council members also voted to raise water rates by 5 percent and sewer rates by 25 percent.

Mayor Williams said greater than anticipated expenses in recent years have forced the town to use reserves to pay for sewer operations and capital projects.

“The new budget will help us to build back our reserves. We certainly have reserves, but we need to build them back to take care of major emergencies,” said Williams.

Williams said the town’s revenue from property taxes will return to the same level as it was in 2009.

“One thing I’d like to point out is even with this property tax increase, most people will be paying the same amount of taxes they paid 10 years ago,” said Williams.

Frustrated neighbors like Marie Velong are still left with questions.

“Why did it take so long for them to figure out this was a bad spending plan? Five years is a long time to be borrowing and not planning on raising taxes,” said Velong.

The property tax and fee increases will go into effect July 1, 2019.

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