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Spruill takes oath as new Commissioner

Brian Englar
Frederic News-Post

(6/15) Tuesday's town meeting featured the swearing-in of one of two new commissioners elected last month, as well as the passage of the fiscal 2012 budget.

Chris Spruill took the oath of office from Sandra Dalton, clerk of the Frederick County Circuit Court. Spruill, a write-in candidate, won a seat along with former Burgess Don Trimmer in an election many residents feel was marred by the involvement of Ryan Trout, a former Woodsboro resident and 2010 House of Delegates candidate who supported and canvassed for Spruill.

Incumbent Joel Rensberger was pushed out in what had begun as an uncontested race.

Many residents feel Trout's involvement was part of a plan to get Democrats elected to municipal offices, as well as to defeat Trimmer, a Republican.

Spruill appeared ready to leave the controversy behind and get down to business.

"I appreciate the support of the town in electing me to represent them here on the commission," Spruill said. "I'm really eager to get my feet wet and get started."

Trimmer was not present and will be sworn in at a later date.

The commission voted unanimously to approve the fiscal 2012 budget. The budget contains an increase in expenditures in the water and sewer fund -- which went from $385,179 to $397,587 -- and the general fund, which increased from $350,377 to $371,953.

Burgess Gary Smith said the increase in the water and sewer fund was needed to pay for a new contractor to run the sewage treatment plant, which represented a cost increase of nearly $20,000. He said the fund was also hurt by the loss of more than $20,000 in revenue from AT&T, which stopped using the town's cell tower.

The minimum water fee was raised $6 a month to pay for the new expenditures. Smith said the increase was necessary because higher water rates would lead more people to reduce water usage, leading to a shortfall in the fund.

The general fund increase comes largely from the decision to budget $5,999 for street repairs, something that was not part of the 2011 budget, as well as a doubling in the cost of snow removal, which Smith said was a result of an increase in the cost of chemicals.

"I had to put at least $5,000 in there," Smith said of the money for street repairs. "We might have to fill in a sinkhole someplace or put in a culvert. We recently had to replace a culvert. Those things you don't know about, but you have to put money in the budget in case they pop up."

Additional funds will be raised through a .97 cent per $100 hike in property taxes, as well as a nearly $14,000 increase in the amount of shared highway taxes received from the state.

In other business, the commissioners decided to put off a vote on the approval of revisions to the town's comprehensive plan until all the commissioners were present.

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