'No' to Arundel Tax Cap

October 25, 1990

County residents should pay special attention to one of this year's ballot questions, a charter referendum imposing a 4.5 percent cap on the property tax rate. We urge voters to reject this spurious proposal.

Question D is both inappropriate and highly dangerous. It pretends to curb rising assessments but it does nothing of the sort. It is so poorly drafted that the amendment's impact is subject to wide interpretations. Recent analysis shows the proposal won't cut tax bills by more than $10 and would barely affect government spending. But some fear courts could re-interpret this amendment, forcing the county to cut services by $118 million over five years.

If voters want to lower their taxes and cut government spending, there is a simpler and far better way -- elect councilmen and an executive who will follow those mandates. Responsive government cannot operate if it is bound by arbitrary, inflexible revenue caps -- particularly in uncertain economic times.

We urge a vote against Question D.

There are three other proposals on the Arundel ballot this election:

* Question A. Establishing a spending affordability committee to weigh projects such as roads and schools against the county's capacity to generate revenue. We recommend a vote for this question, which seeks to institutionalize a useful process initiated in the last budget cycle. It provides an impartial, realistic assessment of the county's ability to finance services and long-term debt, and is advisory only.

* Question B. Requiring petitions for charter amendments to be filed with the county council. This is a technical housekeeping measure that brings Anne Arundel's charter into compliance with state law. Citizens should vote for this amendment.

* Question C. Designating the effective date of the incoming county executive's term as the first Monday in December after an election. This, too, is a technical matter. Vote for this amendment.

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