Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Tax Tasking

Posted by David Keelan on Saturday, January 13, 2007

With the recently convened task force reviewing the senior tax cut I think it begs the question.

Why don’t we have task forces to look at proposed tax increases such as the 30% income tax increase in 2003?

If the County is running tax surpluses then taxes are too high.  Why doesn’t the County Council convene a task force to look into that?

When our money is given back to us then it takes a 15 member committee to decide if it was the right thing to do.

As to Pat Dornan’s, Sherman Howell, and Ted Meyerson’s quotes in the paper I think they missed the bigger picture (at least as reported in the paper).

Dornan immediately declared that $4.3 million is a “minuscule” portion of the total $1.2 billion county budget, while Sherman Howell, another committee member said, “There’s a great need in this county for $4 million.”

I agree with Pat on that point and that higher property values and assessments leading to higher taxes are driving (some) people out of the County – those on fixed incomes.

That point being…

The county will be culmatively coming into $132M in addtional Property Tax revenue in Y08,09,10 over 07.  That $4.3M  tax break will be replaced in the blink of an eye with new tax revenues.

We deserve a tax cut and I wonder if this task force will come to that conclusion, or if it is even in their mission statement.  Somehow, I don’t think they will go there.

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6 Responses to “Tax Tasking”

  1. Dan Burdette said

    David,

    Back on December 30th you wrote about the new GASB rules requiring counties to have resources on hand to pay future health care benefits for retiring county employees.

    You indicated that your research disclosed a $477M shortfall in revenue to meet the new requirements in Howard County.

    It seems to me that maybe the $132M in additional property tax revenue over the next 3 to 4 years might help to meet a portion of this obligation, without raising other taxes.

    I guess the other choice would be to do what corporations do, i.e., promise your employees retirement health care benefits and then renege on the contract when it comes time to pay.

    Or, maybe we could just reduce some other services. Schools, roads, fire-fighters, emergency medical services, or some other service that most of us appreciate in Howard County.

    Just a thought.

    Dan

  2. Dan,

    I don’t think any of that will be necessary as I believe that the bond rating agencies will continue our AAA rating as long as they see Howard County making progress on the post retirement benefits. We will have more than enough time to satisfy that obligation.

    In the end we can continue to fund current programs, fund post retirement benefits, and provide tax relief.

    David

  3. Dan Burdette said

    David,

    So you recommend borrowing the money?

    Isn’t that how we got into the $8.2 trillion dollar debt incurred by the Bush administration?

    I believe paying as you go and saving for the future, especially against accured obligations, is a much more prudent and conservative way to manage a budget.

    Dan

  4. cindy vaillancourt said

    Dan,
    In the case of trying to comply with changes in accounting rules, I’m not sure the idea of “pay as you go” really applies.

    Borrowing probably isn’t the right analogy either —- more like a “payment plan” to fund the new reserve requirements.

    As you have pointed out – if “we” have a $100m plus yearly surplus, we ought to be able to fund the reserves in 4 – 5 years without “changing” taxes.

    Using your Bush analogy – that means no “cutting” taxes either.

    Cindy V

  5. No I don’t recommend borrowing the money. I don’t think the bond agency’s want us to put $500m in the bank today. I think that if we show them we can continue pay as you go and fund the debt over x period of years (maybe 7 or 10) then they will secure our AAA rating.

  6. BTW: What Cindy said. I didn’t see that before I responded. Except, I think we can provide some tax relieft.

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