Caro­line Tax dif­fer­en­tial rate freeze pro­posed

Times-Record - - Front Page - By ABBY AN­DREWS aan­drews@car­o­line­times­

PRE­STON — The Caro­line County com­mis­sion­ers are con­sid­er­ing keep­ing the tax break it gives to res­i­dents of the county’s five largest towns at the same rate in Fis­cal Year 2019 as in the cur­rent year.

Though the for­mula de­vel­oped by the county would have pro­vided a larger rate cut for res­i­dents of Den­ton and Fed­er­als­burg in FY19 — 1 and 2 cents more, re­spec­tively — at a meet­ing with town of­fi­cials Tues­day, March 13, com­mis­sion­ers pro­posed main­tain­ing this year’s rate in­stead.

The move would mean about $67,000 more in col­lected prop­erty tax rev­enue for the county, said Pres­i­dent Larry Porter.

“You see the hole we’re in, and it just got big­ger tonight,” Porter said, re­fer­ring to the sher­iff’s of­fice’s re­quest at an ear­lier bud­get hear­ing for $252,000 to fund longevity pay for deputies.

Be­fore that re­quest, the com­mis­sion­ers al­ready had about a $355,000 gap to close be­tween fund­ing re­quests and ex­pected rev­enues in FY19.

The mu­nic­i­pal tax dif­fer­en­tial is in­tended to avoid mak­ing town tax­pay­ers pay for the same ser­vices twice, specif­i­cally po­lice pro­tec­tion.

Den­ton, Fed­er­als­burg, Greens­boro and Ridgely all have town po­lice de­part­ments, funded by tax­pay­ers, while Pre­ston uses tax rev­enue to pay for ex­tra cov­er­age from the Caro­line County Sher­iff’s Of­fice.

If the com­mis­sion­ers do main­tain the tax dif­fer­en­tial rate, Den­ton, Greens­boro and Ridgely res­i­dents will re­ceive 7 cents off their county prop­erty tax rate; Fed­er­als­burg res­i­dents 9 cents; and Pre­ston res­i­dents 3 cents.

County Ad­min­is­tra­tor Ken Decker said the for­mula used to cal­cu­late the rate takes the num­ber of sworn deputies in the sher­iff’s of­fice and di­vides that by the pop­u­la­tion of the un­in­cor­po­rated parts of the county.

Porter said by adding four more deputies over the past few years, the county has shot it­self in the foot in re­gards to the tax dif­fer­en­tial.

“We pay for train­ing and salaries for the new deputies, and the num­ber af­fects the for­mula in the towns’ fa­vor,” Porter said.

Town of­fi­cials were agree­able to the pro­posed rate.

“The county’s not legally ob­li­gated to (pro­vide any tax dif­fer­en­tial), so we ap­pre­ci­ate the off­set we’re get­ting,” said Den­ton Coun­cilmem­ber Dal­las Lis­ter.

Porter said the meet­ing March 13 was not to set the rate; that would not be done un­til May. He en­cour­aged the of­fi­cials in at­ten­dance to dis­cuss it with their fel­low coun­cilmem­bers.

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