In 2014, the Republican-led Board of County Commissioners raised the Frederick County property tax rate to $1.06 per $100 assessed value on homes. Since County Executive Jan Gardner was first elected later that year, and even after Democrats took the majority on the County Council, the tax rate has remained constant at $1.06.
The $1.06 constant tax rate, due to the fiscal responsibility of our county government, has made it possible for us, as a community, to maintain a AAA bond rating, provide exceptional government services, and meet the needs of the county, including building, renovating and staffing additional schools, libraries and new parks. The county has added almost 200 additional fire fighters to our forces, additional 911 call staff and other emergency responders to ensure that, when someone calls for assistance, highly trained help is available quickly. All things that help increase the value of our property.
State Senator Michael Hough and the local Republican Party are arguing for a constant yield, where the county takes in the same amount of revenue from year to year. This would lead to the inability of the county to continue to provide the same level of these types of services without causing severe budget deficits in the future, shortfalls we would have to make up at some point. These funding gaps would be worsened by inflation, depriving the residents of Frederick County the services needed in a growing county. These include services in education, infrastructure, transportation, health and parks. Again, all the elements that factor into increased property values.
Constant yield isn’t practical because we simply don’t live in a constant yield economy. What Senator Hough and other local Republican leaders are asking for is the very definition of irresponsible local government because it would devastate the vitality of our community and our investments in property. Their tax policies, if enacted, would result in lower property values, forcing them to have to raise the tax rate in order to achieve constant yield.
Ultimately, the argument local Republicans are attempting to make about property taxes just doesn’t add up.