Montgomery County, Maryland may be ready to increase property taxes now that the elections are behind us.
You’ve heard it all before.
In the tough economy, local governments don’t have anywhere to turn to balance their budgets. You know the drill – there’s not one penny of waste to be found anywhere and we either have to raise your taxes or we’ll have to cut police, fire, and day care services.
As Montgomery County wrestles with a $140 million budget shortfall, nothing is off the table including property tax increases with the elections in the rear view mirror.
This county is an excellent example of a local government that can’t do more with less and it has plenty of company.
Montgomery County has increased property tax revenue by at least the rate of inflation every year since 1992 and it has exceeded the rate of inflation in four years since 1992.
What that means in plain English is that despite significant fluctuations in home values, this county has always found a way to increase its annual spending. And even though we are going through the toughest economy in years, property tax increases are not off the table.
As politicians were running for office this year, most of them promised not to raise Montgomery County property taxes. One by one many of them promised to the one politician who would be the one dissenting vote that would block any attempt to raise property taxes beyond the rate of inflation.
And as usual, there was no one saying that Montgomery County could do more with less so that property taxes could be cut. It seems as though in this county things are so bad that politicians don’t take credit any more for cutting taxes – instead they boast about being the one politician who didn’t want to raise taxes as much as everyone else!
The situation in Montgomery County, Maryland is not much different than what is being faced in many counties around the country and it will be a big question in the future – At a time when property tax values and property tax bills should be falling, will most counties simply adjust the tax rates in order to make the updated assessments meaningless?