Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Housing Market Hits The County Purse

The Baltimore Sun covered the new property tax assessments that are being mailed out today, which have decreased an average of 20%. Being one of those home owners who bought in the last two years, I am in the margin of those who will benefit the most from this decrease (after appealling my 2007 assessment TWICE). I have already gone online to check my new assessment, which is down approximately 15%. Due to the Homestead Tax Credit Program, this decrease should keep my tax burden lower than the 2007 levels for almost the next decade.

The concern is that our county is already scrambling for revenue. There are signs of future revenue growth (that don't have "Columbia Redevelopment" stamped on them). But I was recently told by an elected official that the cupboard is bare and the county savings are kaput.

We have citizens such as Jeff Robinson urging the county to avoid raising taxes, but due to the ever present free-rider mentality (i.e., I won't complain until you hurt me), the only voices that are being heard are those that still want more in the face of less. As external philanthropic income has gone down, these groups turn to the county for funding as if it was a everlasting font of free money. I have great sympathy for these groups and dedicate my time to a number of them, but I think our county needs to think critically about what it is able to spend. Due to the nature of tax cycles, it will be a long time before revenue streams recover. Raising taxes will seem like the easy fix, but that will only further constrict the private revenues that these service organizations rely on for growth.

It just brings me back to the fact that $100,000, no matter how significant in the hundreds of millions that are spent by the county each year, is going towards signs that tell us lightning is dangerous. Absurdistan is right.

1 comment:

  1. Everyone should appeal - good for you.

    It's abominable that people are loosing jobs at extremely high rates, job security is nonexistent, and the local government wants more revenue! Other counties are looking at cutting school admin costs and even freezing teacher pay. I read that kids spend 23 weeks a year in school and teachers still get full time pay. That doesn't seem right when the rest of us are loosing income, jobs, security.