202

Tax increase marks Prince George’s Co. Council first in decades

Members of Prince George's County Council vote on the FY 2016 budget on Thursday. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

WASHINGTON — The Prince George’s County Council has approved a property tax increase as part of the FY 2016 budget. The 4 percent tax increase is the first property tax boost in more than 30 years.

In a county where voters have long protected a tax cap that goes by the acronym TRIM, it’s an unpopular budget, but one that Prince George’s County Council members hope finds middle ground between a 15 percent tax increase and having to call for layoffs.

After the Thursday vote, Council Chair Mel Franklin told people gathered in the council hearing room that “raising taxes in any amount is not our desire.”

He noted that the 6-3 vote reflected support for funding teacher pension expenses and an intent to stave off possible layoffs in a tight budget year.

“We have collectively determined that both the County Executive’s initial proposed 15.6 percent tax increase as well as yesterday’s revised 7 percent  proposed tax increase are not affordable for county taxpayers,” Franklin said, noting the difference between County Executive Rushern Baker’s tax proposals and what the council has approved.

The council’s action, combined with an increase to the county’s telephone tax, would raise $34 million for education, versus the $133 million Baker initially wanted, and the $65 million increase he offered as a compromise on Wednesday.

The 6-3 vote makes the county council’s action veto proof, but it’s not quite a done deal yet. The council will have to hold a hearing before taking a final vote on the proposal and that must be done before July 1 — the start of the new fiscal year.

 

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.

© 2015 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.