The proposed assessment cap for Howard County is different than those pending in Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties, where grass-roots citizens groups have initiated action to put the question to referendum in November. In Howard, the plan comes from Councilman Charles Feaga, who proposes limiting assessment increases to 5 percent a year, but ought to know better.
Certainly, homeowners in Howard County have been burdened with tax increases as the values of their homes skyrocketed. In recent years, assessment hikes have averaged a whopping 15 percent annually. That is, unquestionably, a hard pill for residents to swallow. Still, the tax rate in Howard -- at $2.45 for each $100 of assessed value -- remains enviably low. Moreover, the General Assembly already has provided a modicum of relief by capping assessments statewide at 10 percent this year.
We are certain that this is not sufficient to appease angry homeowners. Nonetheless, there is a larger issue: The state cap alone will substantially reduce the revenue the county might otherwise have expected.