March 17, 2011

Homeowners would fork out $8,229 per year under Leggett's budget

Montgomery County homeowners' average annual tax burden would exceed $8,200for the first time under County Executive Ike Leggett's fiscal 2012 budget proposal. Households would pay an average $8,229 in taxes in fiscal 2012 -- up $255 from fiscal 2011 -- under Leggett's plan, according to the county finance department.

The county is facing a $300 million deficit in fiscal 2012 -- on top of long-term unfunded commitments such as $3.6 billion in retiree health benefits -- and revenues heavily dependent on property taxes remain deflated by the residual effects of the recession.

"We still have a relatively weak economy," Leggett said Tuesday. "There are uncertainties with our state fiscal deficit, and federal unemployment procurement changes will continue to have a negative economic impact on our county."

To offset falling home prices, Leggett would increase county property taxes by roughly $17 per $100,000 of assessed value -- or about $85 more annually on a home valued at $500,000. The rate would climb 1.7 cents from the current 69.9 cents. Leggett said the effect on taxpayers would be minimal, but County Councilman Phil Andrews argued costs would rise in the future.

"If you raise the property tax rate ... that will come back to bite people when the property [assessments] go back up," said Andrews, D-Rockville/Gaithersburg. "I'm very concerned about this particular proposal."

Leggett also would start charging a 5-cent tax on plastic and paper bags.

Leggett's chopping block
• Most recreation center youth sports programs would be eliminated, along with teen special events.
• The Office of Commission for Women, Office of Human Rights, and the Regional Services Centers would be consolidated.
• The Conservation Corps program would be eliminated.
• The county Energy Tax Rebate program would be killed.
• Supplemental payments to developmental disability service providers would be reduced.
• Substance abuse treatment services and in-home aid services for seniors would be reduced.
• The High School Cadet program in the Fire and Rescue Service would be eliminated.
• Transportation incentive funds for commuters using transit or ride sharing in Bethesda would be eliminated.
• Traffic signal relamping, roadway maintenance and traffic studies would be curtailed.

SOURCE: Washington Examiner

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