Now hear this: a property-tax proposal
Matt Gonter, a Baltimore resident and property-tax activist, is scheduled to hit the airwaves Tuesday at noon during WYPR's Midday show to chat about a proposal he made on the Wonk blog: hike the tax rate charged to owners of vacant property.
Gonter, long aggravated that slumlords pay much less in taxes than people who maintain their properties, commented: "Follow Washington DC's lead and raise the property tax rate for all vacant properties by 800% or more. With over 30,000 vacant properties throughout the city, this would seem to be a no-brainer." (D.C. sets a rate of $10 per $100 in assessed value for vacant properties, compared with 85 cents per $100 for the rest of the residential landscape.)
Gonter started a Facebook page to promote the idea. He's bemused by how quickly it caught people's attention.
"I can't believe that only a week ago I came up with an idea to start a Facebook group dedicated to taxing slumlords extra, and now I'm going to be on the radio to discuss my proposal," he wrote me.
Gonter's suggestion on the blog was part of a larger proposal to lower tax rates overall. Have your own tax-rate idea? Share!
UPDATE: Josh Dowlut, who had a counter-proposal in this space, has been added to the show's roundtable. He disagrees with Gonter that raising the rate on vacant properties will make a positive difference, and he plans to suggest cost-cutting ideas to get the overall property-tax rate down. "A better alternative would be to get big businesses to pay their fair share and end practices such as the 15 year zero tax gift on Legg Mason’s new 200 million dollar waterfront office tower," he wrote in an email to me.