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Property Tax Revenue Up for Counties, but State Aid May Be Cut

Maryland lawmakers, who are eyeing aid to counties as a big target for cutting the state budget, will get an extensive look this afternoon at how county coffers are faring.

According to state legislative analysts, collection of property taxes in Maryland's 23 counties and Baltimore have continued to rise -- up 6.3 percent statewide this year -- even as the actual market value of property has decreased.

The strength of property tax collections is because of a provision in Maryland law that has prevented homeowners' assessments, which are redone ever three years, from rising more than 10 percent per year. That has created a cushion between market values and assessed values that hasn't completely disappeared, allowing overall collections to continue to rise based on new assessments.

Many other sources of county revenue have taken a hit during the recession, however, including income, recordation and transfer taxes. Hotel and motel taxes and admissions taxes are holding steady after dropping in the previous fiscal year.

What this all means for the future of state aid to the counties remains unclear. Lawmakers have lopped off chunks of state aid for roads, health services and other programs in recent years, but more than 40 percent of the state budget still flows to local governments. Among other things, legislative leaders are talking about shifting at least part of teacher pension costs from the state to the counties.

The presentation regarding county revenue will be paired with an update on the state budget and the $700 million shortfall that Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) is seeking to close for the current fiscal year.

Members of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee and House Appropriations Committee are in Annapolis for the afternoon. We'll have more on their reactions later.

-- John Wagner

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  August 11, 2009; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  John Wagner , Maryland State Budget  
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Next: Budget Briefing: O'Malley Plans Another $470 Million in Cuts


That 40% figure can be misleading. About 38% is for education. Only 2% actually comes to county councils and commissions for local spending. Frederick County Commissioner Jan Gardner spoke about this issue on WYPR yesterday. Here is a link to the podcast:

Posted by: SickScoutsMom | August 11, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

When I wrote to the tax agency in PG county six years ago complaining of the rise in taxes over the valuation of my home I was told it was based on SALES prices of the homes. To me this makes no sense. I advised them that if they were to use the insurance company standards for appraisal taxes would be more stable. This would be to take the square foot building cost as the benchmark for assessment. Their response was to indicate they were complying with the law. If they had used the insurance company approach they might not be in the fiscal situation they are now in. The other item is their continued expansion of services/budgets based on future revenue. I pointed out that if a downturn occurred their position would be on a more solid base. Guess what folks: my prediction came true, prices fell drastically and so did the income to the county coffers. Now they have doubled the value of my land to offset the loss in revenue from the rise in market prices. In addition it is common knowledge that PG is favoring its friends and colleagues with contracts and other abuses of taxpayer dollars while the citizens face foreclosure, job loss, losses in their retirement and home equity. My plan is to hire an attorney and retroactively challenge my last three years assessment and the next three years future assessments in order to lower my taxes to a more reasonable level and to recoup some of the already exorbitant taxes paid. According to the revenue department my home has increased 60% in value since it was built in 2002 and my taxes have increased about the same percentage. I would like to offer my home to anyone who will pay the price they are telling me my home is worth for tax purposes!!! This county is ridiculous as to how they waste the taxpayer’s money while touting they are the most affluent predominantly black county in the country. When you view how the county handles the affairs of the public there is no affluence that can justify the way they waste money while continuously crying poor mouth and trying new ways to scam the public out of their hard earned dollars. If the public must live within their means so does government. The happiest time of my life here in PG will be when I sell my home and move out!!! This place is a dung heap. They need to call Andrews to request an air strike and start over.

Posted by: OhBrother67 | August 11, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

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