Frederick's Board of Aldermen voted last week to increase the city's property tax rate by 5 cents, rejecting Mayor Jennifer P. Dougherty's proposal to create a user fee for garbage disposal instead.

The board voted 4 to 1 to increase the tax to 69 cents per $100 assessed value of real estate. Alderman David G. Lenhart (R) was opposed.

The city adopted the tax increase as part of its fiscal 2005 budget, which calls for a 5 percent increase in water and sewer fees and substantial rises in fees for construction and building permits. The budget also grants city employees 1 percent cost-of-living increases. The budget goes into effect July 1.

In her March 12 letter unveiling the proposed budget and in interviews, Dougherty (D) said the city's finances had been strained by stagnant revenues in the aftermath of the city's drought-induced building moratorium and higher municipal insurance premiums after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The city's budget of $54.5 million represents a 4.5 percent increase over the fiscal 2004 budget, city spokeswoman Nancy Gregg Poss said. The vote to approve the budget was 3 to 2, with opposition from Lenhart and Alderman William Hall, who recently switched from the Democratic Party to the GOP.

-- Frederick Kunkle