The citizens of Anne Arundel County are finally awakening to reality. The tax-cap referendum, misguided from the start, may now be nothing more than lip service to their frustration.
Arundel voters have the state's highest court to thank. The Court of Appeals, ruling on the constitutionality of a referendum to limit property taxes, picked the provisions it would allow the voters to pass judgment on -- essentially, rewriting the referendum to its liking. This foray into judicial activism stripped the referendum of its core -- a provision that would have rolled back property tax revenues to their 1988-89 level, cutting almost $30 million out of next year's county budget.
That left the county with a proposal that simply limits annual growth in property tax revenues to 4.5 percent or the rate of inflation -- whichever is lower. The cap could still make a big enough dent in county revenues to satisfy even the most vociferous tax rebels. But it probably won't.