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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Roundup Of Local Tax Increases

SALISBURY -- As fiscal 2013 quickly approaches, local municipal governments are wading through budget sessions, and most are contemplating tax increases to offset plummeting property values.
For some, the amount of these increases largely depends on what happens during an upcoming special session of the Maryland General Assembly, which is needed to resolve a $500 million discrepancy in the state's fiscal 2013 budget. That session is expected to come some time in May.
The following is a roundup of local tax increases as they have been proposed thus far.


Mayor Jim Ireton has proposed a 1.5 cent hike in the city's property tax rate, which has not increased in four years.
Ireton said the city's assessable base, or fair market value of real property, has decreased by $221 million, resulting in $1.7 million in lost property tax revenue. Through budget cuts, furlough days and frozen and unfunded positions, this steady decline has been supplemented by city employees to the tune of $1.6 million. Ireton said the 1.5 cent increase has been proposed for three reasons: City employees have already given up a lot, property assessments have dropped and the city wants to continue doing paving projects.
The increase adds up to about $359,000, which Ireton said taxpayers stand to get back if what is returned to the city's surplus account during audit time meets or exceeds that amount.

Wicomico County

The Wicomico County Council has raised the income tax rate from 3.1 to 3.2 percent, which is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2013.
County Executive Rick Pollitt has said he will propose a 7 cent increase to the property tax rates, which the County Council will have to approve as a qualification for receiving a maintenance of effort exemption, once the state passes the necessary bill during a special session. Of that 7 cents, 5-and-a-half is to keep the amount of money coming in from property taxes the same, as property values are decreasing. The additional penny-and-a-half would be what impacts property tax bills.
If the council does not raise the property tax rate to the maximum level allowed by the revenue cap, the county will receive a $14 million hit in fiscal 2013.

Ocean City

Mayor Rick Meehan's proposed fiscal 2013 $76.1 million general fund budget clocks in at $670,000 less than fiscal 2012.
Property value assessments done this year in Ocean City indicate a taxable base value of $8.6 billion, down from $12 billion levied in 2009, when assessments were last done in the area. The town will get about $40 million, or 54 percent of its budget, from real property taxes in fiscal 2013, down from $45.6 million in 2009.
To compensate for the funds lost by way of the assessment decrease, Meehan has proposed a property tax rate of $.4685 per $100 of assessed value. The rate was $.395 in fiscal 2012.
According to Budget Manager Jennie Knapp, although the rate is increasing, most people's tax bills will stay about the same due to the decrease in technical property value.

Worcester County

Worcester County is facing a budget shortfall of $17 million heading into its next fiscal year. A minimum 7.25 cent tax rate increase is needed to match up next year's revenues with this year's.
The budget shortfall represents the difference between expected fiscal 2013 revenues at $154.9 million and requested expenditures of $171.9 million, according to County Administrator Gerald Mason. More than half of requested expenditures come from the Board of Education, at $82.7 million, which is not uncommon.
The County Commissioners have publicly stated their preference to not raise property taxes, however Bud Church, president of the commissioners, has since said a tax increase is inevitable. The exact amount of that increase is contingent upon what happens in the General Assembly, and how much the state will saddle the county with shared costs of teacher pension payments. It's a figure that he said could range from $700,000 to several million dollars.

Princess Anne

The Town Commissioners are considering increasing the property tax rate from 95.4 cents per $100 of assessed value to the constant yield rate of $1.12, according to Town Manager Brenda Benton.
Properties in town decreased in value by 23 percent in the last reassessment by the state, which equates to a $300,000 loss.
Benton said increasing the tax rate to the constant yield would mean most property owners would not see their town tax bills increase.

Somerset County

A budget has yet to be proposed in Somerset County, but County Commissioners are meeting at budget work sessions. A draft budget is expected in the coming month

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