The City Administrator in the performance of his financial duties shall have the authority and shall be required to:
Prepare and submit an annual budget and capital improvement program to the Council.
Supervise and be responsible for the disbursement of all revenue moneys and all expenditures to assure that budget appropriations are not exceeded.
Maintain a general accounting system for the City in such form as the Council may require, not contrary to State Law.
Ascertain that all taxable property within the City is assessed for taxation.
Collect all taxes, special assessments, license fees, liens, and all other revenues (including utility revenues) of the City, and all other revenues for whose collection the City is responsible, and receive any funds receivable by the City.
Have custody of all public moneys belonging to or under the control of the City, except as to funds in the control of any set of trustees, and have custody of all bonds and notes of the City.
Do such other things in relation to the fiscal or financial affairs of the City as the Council may require or as may be required elsewhere in this charter.
The City shall operate on an annual budget. The fiscal year of the City shall begin on the first day of July in any year and shall end on the last day of June in the following year. The fiscal year constitutes the tax year, the budget year, and the accounting year.
The city administrator, on such date as the council determines, but at least ninety days before the beginning of any fiscal year, shall submit a budget to the council. The budget shall provide a complete financial plan for the budget year and shall contain estimates of anticipated revenues and proposed expenditures for the coming year. The total of the anticipated revenues shall equal or exceed the total of the proposed expenditures. The budget shall be a public record in the office of the city administrator, open to public inspection by anyone during normal business hours.
[Amended 9-27-1983 by Res. No. 1983-36]
Before adopting the budget the council shall hold a public hearing thereon after fifteen days' notice thereof in some newspaper or newspapers having general circulation within the city. The council may insert new items or may increase or decrease the items of the budget. If the council increases the total proposed expenditures it shall also increase the total anticipated revenues to an amount at least equal to the total proposed expenditures. Not later than June 1st of each year, the budget shall be prepared and adopted, and no further increases or decreases in appropriations shall be made except as provided herein.
No public money may be expended without having been appropriated by the council. From the effective date of the budget, the several amounts stated therein as proposed expenditures shall be and become appropriated to the several objects and purposes named therein.
[Amended 9-27-1983 by Res. No. 1983-36]
Amendments to the budget may be made by the city administrator during the fiscal year if the transfer of funds is in an amount less than that specified and is not between major departments of the city. All other amendments must be approved by the council. The tax rate previously enacted shall not be increased as a result of any amendment.
No officer or employee during any budget year may expend or contract to expend any money or incur any liability or enter into any contract which by its terms involves the expenditure of money for any purpose, in excess of the amounts appropriated for or transferred to that general classification of expenditure pursuant to this charter. Any contract, verbal or written, made in violation of this charter is null and void, Nothing in this section contained, however, prevents the making of contracts or the spending of money for capital improvements to be financed in whole or in part by the issuance of bonds, nor the making of contracts of lease or for services for a period exceeding the budget year in which the contract is made, when the contract is permitted by law.
All appropriations lapse at the end of the budget year to the extent that they are not expended or lawfully encumbered. Any unexpended and unencumbered funds shall be considered a surplus at the end of the budget year and shall be included among the anticipated revenues for the next succeeding budget year.
All checks issued in payment of salaries or other municipal obligations shall be issued and signed by the City Administrator or other persons designated by the City Administrator with approval of the Council.
All real property and all tangible personal property within the corporate limits of the city, or personal property which may have a situs there by reason of the residence of the owner therein, is subject to taxation for municipal purposes, and the assessment used shall be the same as that for State and county taxes. No authority is given by this section to impose taxes on any property which is exempt from taxation by any act of the General Assembly.
The council may exempt from municipal taxation for a period of time, not to exceed five years, such businesses as stores, factories, manufacturing industries, establishments, plants, apartment buildings and the like, and the land, machinery and tools used, stock in trade and products thereof as may be located in the city and come within the meaning and purpose of this section. The council shall determine what businesses are included within the meaning and purpose of this section, provided, however, that such exemptions from municipal taxation shall only be granted when five or more wage earners are regularly employed by the person or corporation applying to the council for this exemption, and further provided that no such tax exemption shall be granted except to new or established businesses making bona fide substantial improvements or undertaking new construction work. All such exemptions shall be made public and a notice containing the important details shall be posted at a conspicuous place for notices at the Washington County court house and the Hagerstown city hall.
The council may exempt from municipal property tax, for a period of time not to exceed five years, those private houses which have been substantially improved or underwent new construction. The amount of the exemption shall not exceed the amount of the improvement or new construction. All such exemptions shall be made public and a notice containing the important details shall be posted at a conspicuous place for notices at the Washington County court house and the Hagerstown city hall.
From the effective date of the budget, the amount stated therein as the amount to be raised by the property tax constitutes a determination of the amount of the tax levy in the corresponding tax year.
Immediately after the levy is made by the Council in each year the City Administrator shall give notice of the making of the levy by posting a notice thereof in some public place or places in the city. He or she shall make out and mail or deliver in person to each taxpayer or the agent at the last known address a bill or account of the taxes due. This bill or account shall contain a statement of the amount of real and personal property with which the taxpayer is assessed, the rate of taxation, the amount of taxes due, and the date on which the taxes will bear interest. Failure to give or receive any notice required by this section shall not relieve any taxpayer of the responsibility to pay on the dates established by this charter all taxes levied on his or her property.
The taxes provided for in § 713 of this charter are due and payable on the first day of July in the year for which they are levied and are overdue and in arrears on the first day of the following October. They shall bear interest while in arrears at the maximum rate provided by State law for each month or fraction of a month until paid.
[Amended 3-31-1992 by R-92-01]
A list of all property on which the city taxes have not been paid and which are in arrears after they are levied shall be submitted by the finance officer of the city to the treasurer, collector, or any other official of the County of Washington responsible for the sale of tax-delinquent property as provided by the Annotated Code of Maryland. The official designated herein for the purposes of collection shall proceed to sell and sell in accordance with the provisions of the Annotated Code of Maryland applicable thereto, said real property at any time thereafter, but in no case later than two years from the date the tax is in arrears.
Failure of the collector or designated official to sell any real property within the two year period shall not affect the validity or collectability of any tax, or the validity of any sale thereafter made.
All fees received by an officer or employee of the city government in their official capacity shall belong to the city government and be accounted for to the city.
[Amended 2-7-1984 by Res. No. 1984-03]
The city shall have the power to borrow money for any proper public purpose in accordance with the provisions of the Annotated Code of the Public General Laws of Maryland; and, to evidence such borrowing by the issue and sale of its general obligations bonds, notes or other evidences of indebtedness in the manner prescribed by the Annotated Code of the Public General Laws of Maryland, except that any such bonds, notes or other evidences of indebtedness may be sold by negotiation at private sale without solicitation of competitive bids if the ordinance or resolution authorizing such borrowing so provides.
During the first six months of any fiscal year, the city may borrow in anticipation of the collection of the property tax levied for that fiscal year, and may issue tax anticipation notes or other evidences of indebtedness as evidence of such borrowing. Such tax anticipation notes or other evidences of indebtedness shall be a first lien upon the proceeds of such tax and shall mature and be paid not later than eighteen months after they are issued. No tax anticipation notes or other evidences of indebtedness shall be issued which will cause the total tax anticipation indebtedness of the city to exceed fifty per centum (50%) of the property tax levy for the fiscal year in which the notes or other evidences of indebtedness are issued. All tax anticipation notes or other evidences of indebtedness shall be authorized by ordinance before being issued. The council shall have the power to regulate all matters concerning the issuance and sale of tax anticipation notes.
Editor's Note: So in original.
The power and obligation of the city to pay any and all bonds, notes or other evidences of indebtedness issued by it under the authority of this charter shall be unlimited and the city shall levy ad valorem taxes upon all the taxable property of the city for the payment of such bonds, notes, or other evidences of indebtedness and interest thereon, without limitation of amount. The faith and credit of the city is hereby pledged for the payment of the principal of and the interest on all bonds, notes, or other evidences of indebtedness issued under the authority of this charter, whether or not such pledge be stated in the bonds, notes, or other evidences of indebtedness, or in the ordinance authorizing their issuance; with the specific exception of revenue bonds which may be issued through the City of Hagerstown but which bonds historically exempt the city as guarantors and relieve it from any pledge of its faith and credit.
All bonds, notes, or other evidences of indebtedness validly issued by the city previous to the effective date of this charter and all ordinances passed concerning them are hereby declared to be valid, legal and binding and of full force and effect as if herein fully set forth.
All purchases and contracts for the city government shall be made by the City Administrator or other person designated by the City Administrator and approved by the Council. The Council may provide by ordinance for rules and regulations regarding the use of competitive bidding and contracts for all City purchases and contracts. All expenditures for supplies, materials, equipment, construction of public improvements, or contractual service involving more than an amount specified by ordinance shall be made on written contract. The City Administrator shall advertise for sealed bids, in such manner as may be prescribed by ordinance, for all such written contracts. The written contracts shall be awarded to the bidder who offers the lowest or best bid, quality of goods and work, time of delivery or completion, and responsibility of bidders considered. All such written contracts shall be approved by the Council before becoming effective. The City Council may reject all bids and readvertise. The City at any time in its discretion may employ its own forces for the construction or reconstruction of public improvements without advertising for (or readvertising for) or receiving bids. All written contracts may be protected by such bonds, penalties, and conditions as the City may require.
The financial books and accounts of the city shall be audited annually as required by State law by a certified or registered public accountant not in the employ or under contract to the city.