Former Baltimore County Executive Donald P. Hutchinson is heading a coalition of county labor, business and education groups opposed to the proposed 2 percent cap on property tax revenue increases on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Called CARES (Citizens Against Reduction of Essential Services), Hutchinson's group is to work with a statewide organization that hopes to raise $500,000 to fight similar tax cap proposals in Anne Arundel and Montgomery counties.
The larger group is led by the Maryland State Teachers Association, which has agreed to lend $250,000 to the effort. The groups hope to raise the rest through donations. The teacher, labor and business groups are worried that if the caps pass their members will suffer layoffs and a downturn in business activity as county tax revenues fall short of inflation each year.
Hutchinson was announcing his group's effort later today at an Essex firehouse.
He said last night that, despite the apparent lopsided public opinion in favor of the caps three weeks before the election, the referendums can be defeated if people are convinced the caps will hurt vital county services.
Baltimore County has built-in cost increases of $55 million for next year, with only $20 million expected in new revenues if the cap passes, Hutchinson said. That could mean a proportional $8 million cut in education, for example, he said.
Baltimore County's ballot question calls for a 2 percent ceiling on property tax revenue increases. Anne Arundel's would allow for increases up to 4.5 percent, or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. Montgomery County voters face two initiatives, one to limit property tax increases to 75 percent of inflation, and a backup proposal that would limit increases to the full rate of inflation.