With a little extra spending money in its pockets, the Town of Chevy Chase is free to start making a shopping list. After a resident survey and forums earlier this year, it looks like more open space and recreation are at the top of that list.
The town of 2,800 people has a surplus of more than $8 million and an operating budget of $2.8 million. Officials sent out a questionnaire in January to gather residents’ ideas for where to spend some — though probably not all — of the extra cash. About 100 people sent in ideas.
In February, town staff and the Long-Range Planning Committee took the ideas with the most support and held two forums attended by 148 people to further winnow the list of options.
The results from the two forums are in and tallied, with 31 participants naming open space acquisition and recreational uses as their top priority, according to a report from the Long-Range Planning Committee. Another 42 ranked it as their second or third priority.
Other popular suggestions included putting money toward Purple Line assistance, a rainy day fund, street lighting and the town’s tree canopy.
At the first forum, Town Manager Todd Hoffman told The Gazette that the money in the reserve fund has accumulated over the years. The town got rid of property taxes this year, and 90 percent of the town’s revenue comes from income taxes in a formula set by the state, he said.
Income tax revenues took a hit during the recession, but are on the way back up. The town also cut costs during the recession and implemented measures to save on contracting costs, Hoffman said.