County real property taxes will see no increase again
Wording of ad was misleading, officials say
Every year during budget season, the big question for citizens in Charles County surrounds the possibility of whether the commissioners will raise taxes.
Every year, the county is legally required to put an advertisement in the Maryland Independent observing the state’s calculation of what the county’s constant yield tax rate should be and what the rate currently is.
The county’s real property tax rate for the last four years has been $1.205 per $100, but assessments have continued to rise in the county. This year, on average, property assessments are rising 2.4 percent but the Charles County Board of Commissioners is proposing that the tax rate remain the same.
According to the
county’s ad in the Friday, April 21, edition of The Maryland Independent, the state notified the county could lower the tax rate to $1.17 per $100 and maintain the same property tax revenues from last year.
“The ad in the paper said that our tax rate is a $1.20,” David Eicholtz, the county’s director of fiscal and administrative management, said. “But because the assessment value of everybody’s property in the county increased by 2.4 percent, the county should lower their tax rate to 1.17.”
The county would get a 2.4 percent increase in revenue from property taxes if the rate remains the same, Eicholtz said. The county will hold a public hearing to gauge the opinions of the public on the issue on May 9, according to the ad.
The county is currently projecting $387.8 million in baseline revenues for Fiscal Year 2018. Last year, the county received about $211 million in property taxes. But this year, with the assessment increased at 2.4 percent on average, the county is projecting a $7 million increase to about $218.8 million.
With the way the ad is worded, Eicholtz said, it is easy for citizens to believe the county’s property taxes are increasing from $1.17 per $100 to $1.20. However, he said, that is not the case despite the notice to the state.
The ad says “The County Commissioners of Charles County proposes to increase real property taxes” and explains that assessments around the county are, on average, increasing by 2.4 percent. Eicholtz said, however, citizens will pay the same amount.
If a citizen’s assessed property value increased more than 2.4 percent, he said, the citizen will pay more in taxes. If the citizen’s assessed property value decreased, he said, that citizen will pay less in taxes.
“That person would pay the exact same amount as they did in FY 18 as they did in FY 17,” Eicholtz said.
Throughout their tenure, the current Charles County Board of Commissioners under Commissioners’ President Peter Murphy (D) have made it a goal not to increase taxes on citizens during their time in office.
Murphy reiterated as much on the subject of the county’s requirement to send notification of a tax increase in the paper.
“I know it can be very confusing and when you read the way it has to be printed it can be very misleading. These two are very distinct definitions,” Murphy said.
The county will hold a public hearing on the tax rate at 6:30 p.m. May 9 at the Charles County Government building.