Calvert Co. hikes property taxes for first time since 1987

WASHINGTON — Calvert County will raise real property taxes for the first time in 29 years, and local income taxes for the first time in 13 years as part of a $246.8 million budget the county commissioners approved Tuesday.

Combined, the new tax rates will generate about $8.6 million and close a deficit that occurred after the recession started.

The property tax rate will increase from $. 892 to $. 952 per $100 of assessed value. The hike takes effect July 1, 2016.

The income tax increase to 3 percent from 2. 8 percent goes into place Jan. 1, 2017.

“Not one of the county commissioners wanted to raise taxes,” said Calvert County Board President Evan Slaughenhoupt, in a news release.

“We have spent the last year analyzing and examining the operational efficiency of the county’s expenditures and services, and we’ve done so in public forums and via our county website. Based on thorough examination, we understand that in order to maintain our exceptional bond rating, our exceptional level of services and our exceptional workforce, we had no other choice. Today’s vote was necessary for the sustainability of Calvert County Government’s services to the citizens today, and for many many years to come.”

Even with the increase, Calvert County’s property taxes are the ninth lowest in Maryland, the county said.

The hike in income taxes puts the county near the state average and in line with Southern Maryland’s other two counties, Charles and St. Mary’s.

The county will annually re-evaluate the need for the tax increases.

The commissioners approved the budget, which is $7.9 million more than the current spending plan, on a three-to-two vote.

Since the national economic downturn, Calvert County, home to more than 90,000 people, has budgeted conservatively, postponed purchases and not hired new employees.

The fiscal 2017 budget will allow for increased funding in areas that have not been funded or have been underfunded since the recession, including road maintenance, school improvements, fire and emergency medical services apparatus and supplies and step increases in salaries for county employees.

Under the budget, a new release says Calvert County will spend the following:

• $2 million to restore the annual paving budget;
• $1.5 million more for vehicles and equipment;
• $1.2 million on a salary increase for employees and other staffing changes;
• $2.5 million more in pensions and insurance, but $1.2 million less for other post-employment benefit trust contributions;
• $1 million more in snow removal and contingency funds;
• $0.9 million in other operating increases.

The full budget is available on Calvert County’s website.

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