hindsight2020

Commissioner Lenny Thompson uses one of several charts during a public hearing in Oct. 2000 on impact fees to explain in simplistic terms how the higher fees effect the sale and purchase of a property.

Taxes, taxes, taxes. When looking at local government, it's often the question most asked by residents: will my taxes increase?

In 2000, they did. Quite a bit. The then-Frederick County Board of Commissioners voted to raise both the property tax 24 cents to $2.50 of $100 of assessed value, and the recordation tax—placed on deeds, mortgages and other documents filed at the Frederick County Courthouse—was increased from $1.50 to $5 of value.

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The former was needed to fund teacher raises, new county government deputy positions and transportation projects, commissioners said. The latter was used to fund parks and farm preservation projects. 

Part of the increase in recordation tax revenue was used to fund multiple park projects the following year, including $1.5 million at Old National Pike District Park east of New Market.

The money was used to speed up grading at athletic fields and parking lots, along with building acceleration and deceleration lanes at the park's Md. 144 entrance, said Paul Dial, then the head of the county's Parks Department.

David Gray, then-president of the Board of Commissioners, lauded Dial's efforts and added it's a sign that county tax dollars are going toward a worthy cause, "instead of thinking it all goes into the great black hole of the general fund."

Impact fees raised 64 percent
Taxes to take bigger bite out of paychecks

Commissioners also voted in 2000 to raise income taxes by 16 percent, and the impact fee—charged on new home construction to help fund school and library projects—increased 64 percent.

Months after the commissioners voted on all these increases, The Frederick News-Post received multiple letters from residents opposing the tax increases.

That included Kirby Delauter, who has served as both a county commissioner and County Councilman before an unsuccessful bid for County Executive in 2018.

"I see we are all going to be better off now that the commissioners have raised impact fees by 64 percent. As Commissioner Terre Rhoderick stated, there are taxes already in place to fund services in the county. Relax Commissioner Rhoderick, it will never be enough. I'd bet within two years there will be another impact fee or "tax" to fund yet more government growth ... I mean waste," Delauter wrote.

But, as the population increased by more than 45,000 between 1990 and 2000, the tax increases were needed to expand services in a growing county, commissioners said.

Follow Steve Bohnel on Twitter: @Steve_Bohnel

Steve Bohnel is the county government reporter for the Frederick News-Post. He can be reached at sbohnel@newspost.com. He graduated from Temple University, with a journalism degree in May 2017, and is a die-hard Everton F.C. fan.

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