In a proposed $139.7 million budget for next year, Rockville officials are planning on no increase in property tax rates and a slight decrease in spending.

Taxes would still go up because of rising property values.

The Fiscal Year 2022 budget is proposed with a decrease in spending of less than 1% from the current fiscal year’s budget, which was approved at $140.2 million. The fiscal year begins on July 1.

If Rockville officials do not increase property taxes again this year, the rates will have stayed at the same level or dropped for more than 25 straight years.

Eleven years ago, the city lowered the rates for the third time in a row. The current rates are 29.2 cents per $100 of assessed value for real property and 80.5 cents per $100 for personal property.

The proposed budget was presented at a council meeting on Feb. 22. The council was scheduled to have a work session on Monday night, but it was rescheduled to a later date.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the proposed budget has a six-month delay in an increase to the city’s water and sewer utility rates and no increase in the stormwater management fee. There is a 3.1% increase to $14 per year for the refuse and recycling rate.

The council has already suspended all water and sewer late fees and water service disconnections through the end of calendar year 2021.

Of the $139.7 million, $85.3 million would be in the general fund budget — an increase of less than 1% from the current fiscal year’s adopted budget. The FY22 budget “represents a current services budget with minimal capacity for increases or new items,” according to a staff report.

Property taxes, income tax and municipal tax duplication are the main revenue that support the general fund. The real taxable assessed value from FY21 to FY22 increased by 3.2%, to $14.6 billion, which will result in an increase in tax revenue of $1.2 million, according to a staff report.

Taxable assessed values for personal property tax are expected to total about $405 million — a decrease of $12 million in assessed value, or $100,000 in projected revenue from prior projections because of the economic impact of the health crisis.

The priorities outlined in the budget include:

● Providing assistance to the community impacted by the health crisis

● Workforce and affordable housing

● Vision Zero

● Environmental sustainability and Climate Action Plan

● Social justice, inclusion and diversity initiatives

● Economic development

The total number of proposed full-time equivalent positions in FY22 is 618.9, which is an overall decrease of 3.1 from FY21. Regular positions increased by two — an assistant to the city manager for social justice, inclusion and diversity, and a mental health specialist for the police department.

The proposed budget would include a small raise — 1% cost of living adjustment — for employees, but no raises for steps or performance based increments. Regular employees wages are expected to cost $35.2 million.

The current fiscal year had a decrease of 5.1 in full-time equivalent positions, which was mainly staff members in recreation and parks because of the capacity at community and recreation facilities and a reduction in the programming.

The recommended $75.2 million Fiscal Year 2022-2026 Capital Improvements Program includes new appropriations of $20.8 million, combined with prior year carryover funding of $54.4 million to support 45 capital projects.

Five of the capital projects would be new to the program, including:

● Lincoln Park Community Center improvements to renovate offices to program spaces for out of school time programs, community gatherings, classes, and other activities

● Horizon Hill Park pedestrian bridge replacement of a 30-year-old steel truss bridge

● LED Streetlight Conversion to replace the remaining 3,200 city-owned and maintained high pressure sodium streetlights with energy efficient LED lights

● Town Center Road diet to design and construct new cross sections from N. Washington Street to E. Middle Lane, as well as add bike lanes and on-street parking

● Twinbrook pedestrian/bicycle crossing that will extend from the Twinbrook neighborhood to Rockville Pike across the CSX and WMATA railroad tracks with access to the Twinbrook Quarter development

The council will have at least two more work sessions on the budget on Monday, March 22, and April 19. Public hearings on the budget will be on Monday and April 12.

The budget and CIP will be adopted on May 3.

Proposed department budgets from general fund with percent changes from current fiscal year:

● Recreation and Parks: $22.9 million (-9.2%)

● Police: $11.8 million (0.8%)

● Public Works: $8.7 million (-2%)

● Planning and Development Services: $6 million: (-5.9%)

● City Manager office: $5.6 million (4.7%)

● IT: $5.1 million (13.4%)

● Housing and Community Development: $2.7 million (new department)

● Finance: $2.3 million (-4.4%)

● Human Resources: $1.9 million (1.6%)

● City Attorney office: $1.4 million (-2.2%)

● Mayor and Council offices: $856,260 (1.8%)

Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at [email protected]