North Brentwood resident Charles Franklin, 68, said he and his wife are “just making it” and as a result isn’t pleased with the Town Council’s proposed budget that would raise their property tax rate.
“No, no, no,” Franklin said of the proposed increases. “I pay too much in taxes already.”
Under the town’s fiscal 2014 budget proposal released Monday, the real property tax rate for residential properties would increase to 44 cents per $100 of a property’s assessed value, up from the current rate of 34.7 cents per $100 of assessed value. The commercial property tax rate would increase to 58.57 cents per $100 of assessed value, up from 48 cents per $100 of assessed value.
The budget would go into effect July 1.
The tax increases are projected to generate an additional $57,725 for the town. The tax revenue — along with smaller projected increases in county and state support, license and permit fees collected, and other revenue — is projected to increase the budget to $308,864, compared to $247,171 in the current fiscal year.
Revenue increases would help pay for a host of proposed new projects, services and additional employees, said Mayor Petrella Robinson.
She added that the budget will contain an additional $33,750 for a part-time grant writer/project manager and a part-time public works manager/code enforcement officer.
Robinson said the new employees are necessary because the town, which has about 600 residents, is understaffed with only her position, three council members, a treasurer, a public works employee and a clerk to handle town operations. Each of the employees are part-time.
She said the increases would also make up for a projected loss of $24,000 in property tax revenue due to lower home assessments this year by the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.
Resident Gladis Obong said she and her husband were struggling to meet their budget and could not afford additional taxes.
“I would oppose that,” she said of the proposed increases. “I hope a lot of people would oppose that.”
Robinson said the budget contains $37,643 to purchase the now-vacant building of a former a night club at 4516 41st Ave. and the vacant lot next to it to make the properties available for town use. The council is in the process of assessing how much the properties are worth and what the building could potentially be used for, Robinson said.
Smaller line items include the creation of a phone list for residents to use in emergency situations, the purchase of larger recycling bins for trash collection, and slight varying pay increases for elected officials and the town’s two staff members.
Robinson said residents need to come to town meetings and be engaged with the town government to understand why the tax increases are necessary.
“I don’t think they are very aware of how the government is run,” Robinson said. “They need to get on the ball and make sure they are involved and know what they are talking about. They don’t know we have not had a tax increase in at least 10 years. We can’t keep running without it and that’s just the way it is.”