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Public hearing on North East budget goes smoothly

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North East town hall (copy)

North East town hall (copy)

Candidates have until Monday, Jan. 8, to file for the Feb. 12 North East election.

NORTH EAST — The Town of North East hosted a public meeting to discuss its proposed 2020-2021 budget Wednesday evening, which went fairly quickly, as no one from the town had a comment during the virtual meeting.

After the public comment portion was closed, Mayor Robert McKnight noticed additional people had come onto the Zoom meeting and asked if anyone had any questions regarding the budget. One participant did ask if the tax rate was going to remain at $0.48 per $100 of assessment, to which McKnight responded yes. No further questions were asked regarding the budget.

The constant yield rate for North East is $0.4617 per $100.

According to the proposed budget, the town’s water service charges and rates will remain the same, as will the Artesian interconnection service charges and rates. Currently the town’s water service charges are $50.50 per 5,000 gallons minimum plus $10.10 per 1,000 over minimum for in town. The out of town rates are $101 per 5,000 gallons minimum plus $20.20 per 1,000 over minimum. Artesian rates are $14,049 for 35,000 gallons per day minimum plus $4.46 per 1,000 gallons over minimum.

The storm water management fee rate is also proposed to remain the same at $5.60 per quarter per equivalent residential unit.

North East Director of Finance and Administration Kendrick Natale said he was prepared to give a full presentation on the budget, but McKnight noted it was unnecessary due to no one presenting any questions regarding the budget.

Town Administrator Melissa Cook-Mackenzie then discussed plans to open up certain facilities in the town based upon the changes to Gov. Larry Hogan’s COVID-19 related orders Wednesday. She noted some questions had come in regarding the park, specifically questions about the playground equipment and other similar issues.

McKnight noted that following the governor’s press conference on Wednesday, he reached out to Cecil County Executive Alan McCarthy and McCarthy assured McKnight that the county would be following the guidelines the governor has instituted and that McCarthy would be working to open up businesses in the county as soon as was possible.

Natale told the commission that the outstanding balances on utility bills is consistent with what would be expected for a normal quarter, suggesting that COVID-19 had not negatively affected the town’s receipts.

Cook-Mackenzie also noted that the town was continuing to see new permits, mostly for sheds, decks, renovations and fencing, and that while there were not a lot of permits for new housing, the town’s occupancy rates for housing was pretty steady, which she said was an encouraging sign.

The commission also briefly discussed the North East High School graduation, McKnight said the town was working on a few things to help recognize this year’s seniors as part of graduation.

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