Harford County lowers property tax rate
Harford County homeowners rejoice: Your property tax rate is going down July 1.
Well, all right, it's going down less than 2 cents per $100 in assessed value -- from $1.082 to $1.064. On a $200,000 house, the new rate adds up to a bill of $2,128, or $36 less than the old rate. But I'm guessing you'd prefer that to a change the other direction.
On a related note: Harford's homestead cap, which limits how much an owner-occupant's tax bill can increase each year, dropped this year from 10 percent to 9 percent. That's still the highest in the Baltimore metro area. But County Executive David R. Craig says on his blog, "The next step is to reduce it from 9% to 5% by the FY11 budget (calendar year 2010)."
Values aren't going up 10 percent or 9 percent or even 5 percent right now. Still, homeowners whose housing-boom values haven't been fully phased in (even accounting for dropping home prices) could see an impact from this change.
I've heard a lot of grumbling about property tax rates over the years, particularly from Baltimore residents, but some Harford Countians went beyond grumbling and started protesting. Harford Property Tax Revolt organized rallies this spring, complete with signs like "Will Work for Lower Taxes." (This Dagger article about a May rally drew 45 comments.)
The old debate during a recession is (a) lower tax rates to help residents in their time of trouble, (b) leave tax rates alone to try to avoid big cuts in services that residents need in their time of trouble or (c) raise taxes to maintain or increase services that residents need in their time of trouble.
What argument do you prefer?