Prince George’s County to vote on 2016 budget Thursday

WASHINGTON — The Prince George’s County Council will vote on the proposed budget for the upcoming year Thursday.

Among the issues in the budget are whether to boost the county’s property tax rate by 15 percent. Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker says it’s critical in order to fund schools. He points out Prince George’s County Public Schools are getting $20 million dollars less due to Maryland Gov.  Larry Hogan’s decision not to fully fund the Geographic Cost of Education Index (GCEI).

But Baker’s been getting pushback on the tax increase — including from the Prince George’s County Association of Realtors. On its website, the group says the 15 percent increase would add $447 to the tax burden of property owners with a home valued at $300,000. The site says the current housing is too fragile to accommodate the tax increase.

The statement reads in part, “Your customers are already struggling to get the necessary capital together to buy homes.” And for the seller, the site says the tax hike “lessens the pool of ready, willing and able buyers.”

County Executive Rushern Baker has argued that homes in the county are valued at a rate lower than those in neighboring Montgomery, Anne Arundel and Howard counties precisely because Prince George’s County schools rate near the bottom statewide. It’s his argument that the tax hike would result in higher quality schools which would in turn boost home values in the county.

The Prince Georges’ County Council will vote on the budget when it meets at 11 a.m. on Thursday.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report.

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