Talk of tight budgets, cost overruns, costly proposed projects, and additional town obligations were important matters two town commissioners addressed during deliberations Wednesday evening. The discussion came about because Elkton is assuming responsibilities for roads, parking lots, and open spaces that were previously relegated to a homeowners association. While the board considered that obligation, Commissioners Givens and Storke tackled larger financial concerns by asking about the economic burdens created by several large projects already in the pipeline and some that are proposed.
Projects that are going to create significant cost burdens for citizens apparently include the FOP contract, the sewer plant, increased utility rates, and the proposed recreation center, according to the discussion we heard. As various comments were made about the “burden on the taxpayers,” Commissioner Givens asked of the professional staff: “How will this impact the budget . . . [with] the projects we’re trying to do, as well as the recreation center? What will be the impact?” The financial officer said he could provide the board with data once he had cost approximations, but he cautioned the decision makers that they are working with a very restricted budget in tight fiscal times.
“Just how much are we going to get out of the taxpayers of Elkton,” Storke wondered. “When I say tight budgets, I’m talking about projects like the sewer plant that are going to cost us a lot more money than I figured and we’re going to have to raise utility rates. The town only has so big of a pocketbook. You just can’t keep doing everything.”
We thank Commissioner Givens and Storke for asking challenging and insightful questions as the board deliberates subjects. The burden that taxpayers will have to shoulder for any initiative should be a primary factor in assessing the viability of an undertaking.