Mount Rainier residents will pay a higher property tax rate this year and apartment owners will pay additional fees for their units under a fiscal 2014 budget passed Tuesday by the City Council.
Homeowners will pay 86 cents per $100 of assessed value starting July 1, 2013, up from 79 cents per $100 of assessed value, which they paid in fiscal 2013. For instance, a home worth $200,000 would pay $1,720 in property taxes in fiscal 2014.
Apartment owners will pay $150 per unit, instead of the $100 they’ve paid since 2005.
The total budget will be roughly $5.02 million, up from approximately $4.6 million last year. Expenditures in the budget include two new police cars, an additional officer for the city’s current 16-member department, and extra money for community events and committees, such as for the citizen group that is working on the city’s community garden.
The city’s 38 employees, which includes police officers, also will receive a three percent cost of living increase that will cost approximately $65,000. The council also budgeted an additional $193,000 to pay for higher medical insurance and workman’s compensation insurance expenses. Three officers were hurt on the job leading to higher workman’s compensation insurance premiums for the city, said City Treasurer Vijay Manjani.
Officials said the tax increase and apartment fees will help close a projected tax revenue gap of an estimated $375,000 due to decreased property assessments this year from the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.
The increase in property tax rates is projected to generate approximately $233,000 and the apartment fee will generate $65,000 in revenue, Manjani said.
Officials also decided to use $225,000 from the city’s restricted public safety funds and $224,000 out of its approximately $2.9 million in reserves to cover some of the costs of the budget. Officials also doubled city parking meter rates from 25 cents an hour to 50 cents, which is expected to generate $55,000 in revenue, Manjani said.
Mayor Malinda Miles said she heard mostly positive reactions from residents about the city’s proposed budget, despite the increases. She noted that most residents will pay less overall in property taxes even with the rate increase, because of the decreased assessments. The property tax rate state officials recommended to maintain city revenues was a little less than 93 cents, about 7 cents lower than rate in the fiscal 2014 budget.
“Most of my residents did not have a lot of concerns,” Miles said. “What the residents said was that we want to keep our level of services.”
Mount Rainier home owner Tyrese Robinson said the increased tax rate will affect her family’s finances, but, overall, she was in favor of the adopted budget.
Robinson said she supported the police department additions, which she hopes will help to keep residents safe.
“It is one of those hard pills we have to swallow as a community,” Robinson said. “My paycheck has not gone up, obviously. It is going to put a dent in my family’s budget, but there are amenities that we long for and the money has to come from somewhere.”