City's incoming mayor on property taxes
What does City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who becomes Baltimore's mayor Feb. 4, think about the property-tax rate? We got a taste yesterday when she met with Baltimore Sun staff to discuss her priorities and answer questions.
The budget, as you can imagine, was one of the first topics. That's how the subject of taxes came up:
"You have to be frank that [increasing] the property tax would be the last resort, just because ... my goal is to get to the point where we could reduce the property tax and make the city more competitive with other jurisdictions," she said. "But while it's a last resort, it's still on the table, as any other revenue source is."
Not that it's ever fun being the jurisdiction with a property-tax rate more than twice as high as Maryland's counties, but it's especially unfun in this sort of economy. Rawlings-Blake said her finance director, Edward J. Gallagher, tells her the deficit is the worst he's ever seen. She promised that her focus would be "public safety and essential services, as well as getting the budget under control."
One of her priorities in Annapolis is also property-tax related:
The City Council has asked the General Assembly to give Baltimore the authority to tax vacant and uninhabitable properties at a higher rate than other homes. Rawlings-Blake said the idea is "to create incentives for active homeownership."
This was city resident Matt Gonter's suggestion, which he made here and through a Facebook group, then on WYPR. Last month, the City Council backed it, passing a resolution asking the state to create a two-tiered rate.
Interested in other things Rawlings-Blake had to say to us yesterday? The Second Opinion blog has more.