I have lived my entire life in Maryland, all 73 years. We moved to Frederick County, from Montgomery County, in 1980. During my 40 years in Ijamsville, my wife and I raised a family and started our own small business after retiring from Bell Atlantic with a disability.

I now must face the unpleasant task of moving away from my friends and family because I can no longer afford Frederick County’s high property tax rate.

My current property tax is now almost $100 more a month than my initial mortgage, which included my property taxes. Current property taxes equal $346 a month.

I do not live in a mansion located on a large piece or property. We don’t have a million-dollar view.

The services from the county are no bigger or better than they were in 1980. In fact, they are less. Some of the road surfaces look like they were built 80 years ago. Our street had a collapsed water drain that ran under the street. They eventually fixed it (almost a year later) but left a large bump in the road. So, instead of a proper repair, they installed a bump ahead sign. The heavy equipment also left large tracks in the blacktop from the steel treads of the bulldozer.

We do not have city water, we pay for our own trash removal and we are on septic. None of these essential services are provided by the county.

It is pretty pathetic that rates are driving long-time residents away from family and friends due to runaway spending, poor management and high density growth.

I will miss not seeing family on a regular basis. At my age, this time is more precious. I will miss the many long-term friendships. I will also miss the volunteer hours I spend with service organizations that I belong to. I will also miss the great state that I grew up in. Per many studies, I am not alone. This is unnecessary and beyond sad.

Charles Crooks


(70) comments


That is a shame and you are correct about the runaway expansion of homes particularly in the urbana area that has created a fiscal nightmare for the taxpayers and a windfall for the developers , mostly out of county and those who allowed this to occur....also too many freebees ...good luck in your relo


mrnatural1 Jul 11, 2020 4:57pm:

"Dwasserba, I don't understand this sentence:

"But for those already there, there is adequate social life that never involved you nor does it have to." Just curious.

Dwasserba Jul 12, 2020 10:31am:

"Mr. Natural, moving to another town, esp a tiny town, can be lonely. It surprises people who never thought about how often they partied with family, never including anyone else, just never thinking of it....but with kids, work and neighbors and activities, never at a loss for social life with others, if desired. Small towns offer fewer "come one come all" events. It's ok, because half the town is related to you and the other half to your husband. If you lack connections, you stand out at Octoberfest in a way you may never have experienced. Or you may just feel lonely. It's rude to rush up to strangers asking who they are. People probably already have heard you're there. If you are approached, don't say it's not convenient, come back later. They won't. They don't have to. Word will get around that happened. Not sure what's not to understand."

That makes sense to me now, with that explanation.

It sounds like you're speaking from experience.


I have moved several times in my life. It's always hard. Ask military kids. But it is doable; you just have to be aware and be okay with being on your own quite a bit.


public-redux Jul 12, 2020 6:06am:

"mrnatural, My question was directed to francesca."


Ya know...with *FORUMS* this sort of thing isn't a problem, because members can 'quote' each other -- include some/all of the post they are replying to at the top of their comment, along with the other forum member's name.

I've talked with some people at the FNP about switching to a forum format. It would be much more user friendly, attract more readers, and boost the number of paid subscriptions. Unfortunately, they do not seem to be interested at this time.

I've considered starting a "Frederick County Forum" (or similar) for local issues. In my experience though, inertia is hard to overcome. Once people are used to posting/commenting on a particular website they tend to stay there. Take Yahoo Groups (which was finally shut down late last year). It was the opposite of user-friendly -- only slightly better than this FNP comment section. People would routinely complain about how crude and featureless it was -- yet, when an alternative forum was created, most of the people stayed with Yahoo!

I'm reminded of an abusive relationship where one person knows they should leave but stays anyway.

In any case, unless/until the FNP switches to a forum format, perhaps we could have a "New Rule" -- a guideline/suggestion/recommendation if you will:

***When posting a reply to a comment, please include the author's name, so that it is clear who the reply is for.***


When a comment is indented to the one above it, that is a clear indication that it is a reply to the author of that comment.


Thanks for the tip public.

It does work that way sometimes, but it seems inconsistent.

For example, why is my reply to "schaeferhund Jul 11, 2020 7:22pm" not indented -- but my reply to "MD1756 Jul 11, 2020 8:26pm" is?

Your reply to "francesca_easa Jul 11, 2020 9:57pm" is indented (as you said), but it is also indented from my comment directly above hers. So in a case like that, how do we know who the indented reply is intended for?

Why is your reply to "mrnatural1 Jul 12, 2020 1:06am" NOT indented? Or francesca's? Or yours below hers? They're all in a straight column.

Why is threecent's reply to "francesca_easa Jul 12, 2020 7:39pm" actually set back to the LEFT?

Regardless of whether there is a master plan for how this comment section is supposed to work, it's fair to say that forums are much, much easier to use. There is no comparison.

Yes, sometimes it's obvious that a comment here is directed at a certain person, but sometimes there are dozens or even hundreds of posts, with multiple indents. Some comments are a reply one from much earlier that is separated by many others.

In short, it can be hard to follow -- especially compared to a typical forum, where all posts are in chronological order, and members usually 'quote' the post they are replying to, so there is no confusion.

I would make it easier if people would mention the author of comment they are replying to, that's all.


What I'd like to know is what businesses are getting tax breaks. They use tax breaks to attract businesses for jobs, but then it's people like Mr. Crooks who have to pay the balance. What upfront benefits do businesses like Ryan Homes get? Their overprices plastic houses are architecturally out of place and slapped down in travesties of city planning that desecrate the countryside. The county has to provide more infrastructure, roads, water (Jefferson water tower impacted the viewshed for over a thousand people), and schools. And then we'll grow and grow until we morph into Montgomery County.


A couple thoughts come to mind:

1) I'm not necessarily saying this is the case here, but sometimes people CLAIM they are moving because of "high taxes" (or crime, or some other reason) when they actually have no intention of moving. Or, perhaps they are really moving, but the primary reason is something else, and they figure it's a good opportunity to take a (perhaps well-deserved) shot at "taxes".

2) In other cases, people really do get in a financial bind because even with a fixed tax rate (say $1 per $100 / 1.0%) property values almost always increase over time -- sometimes dramatically. Particularly in a "growth is good -- pave everything in sight" area like ours.

Our place is worth maybe 5x what I paid in 1985. I'd have to check, but I think the property tax hasn't increased by that much -- more like 3-4x. Still, it's a lot of money, especially all at once. We pay a large chunk of my pension in property taxes. As the years go by, even if the tax rate does not increase (which it might -- someone has to pay when the developers refuse to) property values will almost certainly continue to go up and so will taxes. They will be an ever larger share of my pension.

Some people are in an even worse position -- no pension, no SS benefit yet (or they get SS but it's a modest amount). They may have to go back to work in retirement just to pay their property taxes and other bills.

Of course, as others have pointed out, if property taxes are high, then presumably so is their property value. Many people qualify for a reverse mortgage, but there are potential pitfalls with them.

Some states have a system whereby property taxes are based on the value at the time the home was purchased. We have a friend whose mother bought her small 2 br cottage in San Diego in the 1950s for something like $20,000. Her taxes were based on that $20K valuation until just a couple years ago when she died and our friend inherited the house. It's current value? Over $1,000,000! The taxes were bumped up based on current market value. Our friend doesn't live there, she rents it out and the rent more than covers the taxes, but if she had been living there with her mom she would have had to move out because she (our friend) is retired and there's no way she can afford the taxes -- and again, this is a very small house, maybe 1,200 s.f.

So property taxes can be a financial burden, and some people probably do deserve a break -- but I do not support blanket laws that apply to everyone over a certain age; or everyone in (or retired from) certain occupations, or everyone who has lived in Fred Co for X years, even though my wife and I might be included. Just because a couple in their 70s has lived in their home for 30 years does not automatically mean they deserve a reduced tax rate. They may be millionaires. The only fair way to give tax breaks is by means testing.


Regarding point #1; you see that with businesses as well. They are going out of businesses because of "minimum wage increases" or "increased taxes" or "smoking no longer allowed" but really they are clearly mis-managed because other places seem to survive in the same climate.


Absolutely right shiftless!


It is also possible that some people want to get away from their family and “friends” but don’t want to admit that.



We'd love to stay, but with taxes so high...


If you have no intention of moving, it doesn't matter what your property is worth, but it does matter for taxes, which is why I keep fighting the assessment of my property because the state/county have almost always over estimated the value. For example, the property across the street went on the market for $175,000 back in September. It has gone off the market and back on and last advertised price is $155,000 but I think they are asking for lower than that. The assessment value is $203,200.

I often agree with you on a lot of items but means tested taxes, no. That is close to what the EPA did for its fitness center. You paid an amount based on your GS level (which correlates to you salary). It doesn't matter if you used it 2 hours a day or 1/2 hour a month, you paid based on your salary. So someone imposing the largest burden could be paying the lowest amount for maintenance. Similar to the more children one has, the less they pay in income taxes despite the fact that they are placing a higher burden on the state and local budgets. That is blatantly discriminatory.



One thing we agree on is that the planet, America, and FredCo are all overpopulated, and that people should not be getting incentives to have kids.

I'm not familiar with the EPA fitness center of course, but I agree that what you describe sounds wrong. My guess is that whoever set up that payment plan just wanted to make it easy to administer. FWIW -- most health & fitness clubs are also 'flat fee' (but needless to say, not means tested).

To be clear, I was referring to means testing property tax *credits*/discounts -- not all taxes. The vast majority of taxpayers would continue to pay as they currently do -- based solely on property assessment. Absolutely, you should contest your assessment if you feel it is too high,

I believe FredCo already has several programs under which property owners can get a break on their taxes. What I'm saying is if we are going to do that, the breaks should be income/wealth based -- so only those who truly need a discount get one.

Factors like age, occupation, years of residency, and astrological sign should not be considerations. When they are, it is often for political reasons. The primary, if not only, factor should be ability to pay.


Mr. Natural, I disagree. Folks who live in their homes for 30+ years, should have their property taxes frozen, after year 30. These folks have paid their dues and have worked hard to own their homes. Their golden years should be spent doing things they always wanted to do but never had time for. Not struggling to pay for increased housing and services and being bled for infinity from banks and government. What company besides Walmart regularly hires seniors and pays them living wages? Job prospects get really thin once you hit 50.


So you’re proposing higher tax rates for everyone else. How much of a higher tax rate are you talking about?


Curses! My plot to raise taxes on everyone in FredCo -- including my wife and I -- has been disclosed! [cool]

Actually, what I am proposing would LOWER taxes for everyone. I wrote:

"So property taxes can be a financial burden, and *some* people probably do deserve a break -- but I do not support blanket laws that apply to everyone over a certain age; or everyone in (or retired from) certain occupations, or everyone who has lived in Fred Co for X years, even though my wife and I might be included. Just because a couple in their 70s has lived in their home for 30 years does not automatically mean they deserve a reduced tax rate. They may be millionaires. The only fair way to give tax breaks is by means testing."

I believe there are already policies in place that use means testing. That's the compassionate thing to do. What I am talking about would likely result in *fewer* people getting a discount, because the means testing would be more stringent. There would be no special treatment for certain groups of people. So the tax rate could be lowered slightly.

"Mr. Natural for County Council!" "Lower taxes and free ice cream and beer!" Do I have your vote?!

In all seriousness, there are already people getting a reduction of their property taxes that may not deserve it, but there are some who do. We're talking about a tiny fraction of FredCo homeowners -- low income; low/negative net worth; little/no equity to tap for a reverse mortgage.

Of course we could just wait until they can't pay their taxes, boot them out on the street, and sell their home at a tax sale. Yee-haw! Only the strong survive! They must not have had any bootstraps!

There are all sorts of public and private discounts; income tax credits/deductions/exemptions; free or reduced cost meals at public schools; "senior" discounts; "children under X age are free; the entire 'social safety net' (SNAP, WIC, HUD vouchers, unemployment, etc, etc), food pantries, discounts for people in certain occupations, on and on. Some are not financially based, but others are not.

When a couple -- regardless of income -- is able to pay lower income taxes because they have children, the rest of us pay more. When corporations like Amazon pay nothing, zero ($0.00) in federal taxes, we all pay more. When the local/state/federal gov't wastes money, we all pay more. When oil/coal/gas companies get federal assistance, we all pay more. On and on...

All I'm suggesting is that we might want to help a family that is in poor financial shape keep their home. Relative to everything else that goes on, that doesn't seem so bad.


mrnatural, My question was directed to francesca.


Good evening Public. I am proposing that government be more fiscal and collect housing taxes on homeowners no more than 30 years, if they stay in the same house. They can get a one time sales tax when the owners sell. I am reminded of my parents who didn't make alot but paid off their 30 year mortgage. But there is always taxes and insurance forever They ended up paying 3x the amount in insurance and tax combined, then their original PITI. I remember my mom sitting on the living room floor crying when the moving trucks came and she could no longer afford to live in the home she'd known for 40 years. She bought a home in Myrtle Beach. And now the values there are skyrocketing too. She has a reverse mortgage. And a modest SSI income. But still pays the interest and insurance.


Yes, I understand that you want to have higher tax rates on people who have been in the houses for less than 30 years in order to subsidize those who have been there 30 years or more. Now you might say government should spend less. Okay. Poof! Government is now spending less. And yet you still want some people to pay more so others can pay less. Why?


People who have lived in their homes for 30 years have probably paid off their mortgages, so why give them a property tax break?


Except Three when the taxes alone well exceed what the cost of the mortgage was.


Why does it matter what the original mortgage amount was?


Charles, $4,152 a year is a little on the low side. We pay more and have city water, sewer, trash and garbage pickup, all included in our taxes, except for the water and sewer, which adds about $50/mo. Our street is always plowed, early in the morning, during the winter. I know you don't get that in the County. Your problem is not the State, it is the County, but MOCO must have been and certainly is now much higher. It is not much better in Pennsylvania either. You could go to W. Virginia and pay less and get less in the way of services. There are a few states you would be better off in, like Florida. Personally, I don't like Florida for year around living.


Go ahead and pay the taxes and apply for any tax reductions you may qualify for. But certainly you can move your home, but you can not take it with you when you die. Do what it takes to be close to family and friends and to be in the place you like.


You can't take it with you is true, But if I have anything left over, I'd rather it go to charities of my choice.


According the the Frederick County site, the tax rate in 2001 was 1% and now it is 1.06%. So basically what you are telling us is that your property has skyrocketed in value and it is expensive to keep. No wonder the author does not tell us what the value of the property was in 1980 and today.


I can tell you ours is worth about six times what it was worth in 1980.


Did I read this correctly, that his property taxes have risen $100 over the past 40 years? Oh the horror.


I understood it to mean his original PITI was ~$250/month whilst his taxes now are ~$350/month.


That is my understanding as well, public.


Yes, I realized after I posted that it was per month. Still, $1,200 a year after 40 years is perfectly reasonable.


I retract my last comment. My CPA mind isn’t working today. So I’m assuming the mortgage is paid off. But in order to fully understand his reasoning you would need to consider the incremental increases over 40 years. I still think it’s reasonable, but that’s in the eye of the tax payer. But I agree that the county’s accelerated growth under the Young BoCC has diminished the quality of life and so the return one gets for that on their taxes doesn’t feel so great now.


His complaint seems to be only about the increase in his taxes and not about the increase in the value of his property. Which he can obtain tax-free.


Taxes do not bother me so much as the water bill and home owner insurance and the other charges we pay.


Home owner's insurance is cheap, Gary. I pay about $50/mo. for water and sewer, I paid that much in Washington County over 20 years ago.


And you know your home's water use and can detect leaks. Before I moved to a Flume system, I was paying for 180 gallons a day. Now it is in the 20's. Insurance depends on coverage. I do see your point.


I understand the need to move elsewhere for tax relief, but NOBODY in authority cares if you do. The property will still be here and will still be taxed.



And if you needed to replace the shingles on the roof and that cost $4,500, then it would be the shingles that are “forcing” you to move.

The money you will spend selling your house and moving would likely be equal to about 5 years of taxes. Look into a reverse mortgage. Use the appreciation in your house to stay in your house.


Good suggestion, public.

I would add that -- from what I've heard -- while reverse mortgages can be very useful, there are scammers that take advantage of people looking for a reverse mortgage. Buyer beware.


I’ve heard that about forward mortgages too.



Absolutely, there are scams and rip-offs everywhere.

For some reason, there seems to be more abuse when it comes to reverse mortgages. Perhaps because the applicants tend to be older, and more likely to be taken advantage of? I don't know, just repeating what I've heard and read.

That doesn't mean no one should get a reverse mortgage, just that they should do their homework.

The HECM you mentioned would seem to be more safe.


Get a HECM.


If an adult child moves in as your caregiver, make sure they are taken care of when you die. I know a middle aged person who lost a parent and it made her homeless. Not cool.


That's horrible Dwasserba -- what happened? The house had to be sold?


We just replaced ours and only paid the insurance deductible. No one should ever have to pay more.


You have insurance that covers shingles at the end of their useful life as opposed to insurance for shingles damaged by a covered peril?


All roofs have had peril. Ours certainly did. They do deduct for that and then add it back, I forget the reasoning. Call First Call Contractors, they can tell you.


Here is your answer, Gladys and Hay:


"In most states, there are two types of coverage: Repair coverage and replacement coverage. Replacement policies are more common, though they do cost more. Replacement coverage provides for returning the roof to a brand new condition when an event that is covered by the insurance policy takes place. Repair coverage usually takes into consideration depreciation of the roof. This means you will get a percentage of the replacement cost based on the roof’s material and age. It could be as low as 15% for a roof near the end of its service life. Read your policy carefully. If the language is confusing, ask questions."


Dick, What you have described is coverage for a damaged roof and not a roof at the end of its useful life. Replacement value vs repair value is irrelevant with respect to whether a roof was damaged or not. That affects only the amount of the benefit in the event of damage.


Really? What kind of insurance do you have? Or was it some hail damage kind of claim?


All roofs have hail damage. As I said above, see FCC.


This company is very good. You sign a contract with them where they agree to not charge you except for the deductible.

Roof, Siding & Gutter Contractor - First Call Contractors


First Call Contractors (FCC) was founded August 26th, 2015 and since opening our doors have held ourselves to the highest level of customer service. We have a combined experience of 50+ years within our team carrying the very best expertise in home improvements.


Dick, How would a roof have hail damage if it had never been hit by hail?


Perhaps you are not financially capable of owning a house anymore. Not everyone can.


Perhaps seniors should be given a larger property tax credit. Many seniors cannot afford the high cost of living. I know my parents struggled under the weight of medical care, taxes, etc. even though they’d paid their mortgage off. We need to do more for our seniors. period.


Did your parents consider using the equity in their house so they wouldn’t have to struggle?


I knew old people, and now I am old people, and I believe the issue becomes just not wanting change, even when agreeing it sounds better, meals prepared, transportation provided, no mowing, regular activities but all optional...instead living alone in two downstairs rooms of a giant house in a desirable neighborhood, just to avoid stairs. With very little disposable income after bills are paid. Basically occupying and preserving a house to benefit someone else whenyou're dead. Unselfish. Sad. But familiar.


I was thinking that too, seven.


You get what you pay for. Frederick County has good schools, it is a safe place to live, and we have some very nice parks and a great library system. Move someplace else and you might find something very different. And wherever that place may be you may find some new taxes you don't pay here like a car tax, energy tax, transfer tax, telephone tax and some others. Look at the whole tax picture and you may find out it's not so bad here. And being close to family is worth more than you think!


FF - exactly!


Good point -- the bottom line is what counts.

Taxes here are high -- in large part because development does not pay for itself -- but they are a LOT higher elsewhere.

Of course there are places where they are dirt cheap, but as you said, you generally get what you pay for.

Many retirees prefer rural/semi-rural areas with low taxes but they do have fewer services.


On average, tax freedom day is earlier in DE, PA, VA and WV than they are in MD. Of course it depends on your specific circumstances. I've considered moving north to PA (or WV or VA) because 3 sources of my income would not be taxed by PA compared to MD. To a large degree, other than not wanting to see my tax money wasted, I don't care about the quality of the schools since I never had children. When it comes time to pay the full price of the Kirwan legislation is when I might be moving out of the state, but not yet.


Sorry to see you go, but I understand. At over $600 per month, I too am looking elsewhere, into PA perhaps, where property taxes are lower AND retirement income isn't taxed. Governments, and Frederick County is no different, have an insatiable need for other peoples' money to fund ever expanding local programs that, though well intentioned, nonetheless cost more and more taxpayer dollars. Look no further than the state of NY where hundreds--yes hundreds--are leaving the state every day--yes every day--as evidence that people will only take so much. Other states like CA, IL and CT have similar problems. Since Maryland is also a high-tax state and Frederick County in a high-tax county, I expect they too will suffer a similar fate eventually, and you sir, are evidence of that very fact.


And guess what will happen to taxes in those states they are flocking too? Up they go!


Maybe. We're spoiled by amenities unheard of some other places. Be sure to look at whatever-town's website and youtube video before you invest. You could be "pinching yourself" (quoting a relocated person) over housing prices but find yourself excluded from the array of family-based entertainments. Shooting at cans on a stump by yourself is quickly dull. Hard to believe, I know. But for those already there, there is adequate social life that never involved you nor does it have to.



I don't understand this sentence:

"But for those already there, there is adequate social life that never involved you nor does it have to."

Just curious.


Mr. Natural, moving to another town, esp a tiny town, can be lonely. It surprises people who never thought about how often they partied with family, never including anyone else, just never thinking of it....but with kids, work and neighbors and activities, never at a loss for social life with others, if desired. Small towns offer fewer "come one come all" events. It's ok, because half the town is related to you and the other half to your husband. If you lack connections, you stand out at Octoberfest in a way you may never have experienced. Or you may just feel lonely. It's rude to rush up to strangers asking who they are. People probably already have heard you're there. If you are approached, don't say it's not convenient, come back later. They won't. They don't have to. Word will get around that happened. Not sure what's not to understand.


I remember how great it was to live in Tennessee with no income tax. Then I looked at the sales tax. More than double Maryland's at the time, and they charged it on things MD didn't charge sales tax on. The point is that it comes out of your pocket one way or another - it's just a question of which pocket (that a sales taxes hit the poor harder than income taxes). Move for lower property taxes if you want, but you'd better look at the other taxes a state charges (remember Virginia's personal property tax that you paid on your car every year?) before you make your decision.


Depends on where you live in New York too. North of Utica property taxes are high, but home prices are low, winters are very hard.

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