"Bah! Humbug! No!"
County Councilwoman Joanne S. Parrott, R-District B, played the role of municipal Scrooge Tuesday when a majority of her colleagues voted to raise the cap on property tax assessments.
But faced with another round of state budget cuts, the council approved a bill allowing individual assessments to be increased by as high as 10 percent, beginning July 1, 1992.
The cap on property taxassessment increases is 6 percent.
The county treasurer estimatesthe higher cap will generate $731,000 in property tax revenues in fiscal year 1993.
The measure was co-sponsored by Council President Jeffrey D. Wilson, R-At Large and members Theresa M. Pierno, D-District C, and Philip J. Barker, D-District F. The bill was backed by County Executive Eileen Rehrmann.
"We've got to stop this nonsense of sticking our heads in the sand," Pierno said. "With the economy in a recession, more services are going to depend on the county."
Harford was one of four local governments that lowered their assessment caps from 10 percent this year after the General Assembly granted that authority. The county must renew or change the cap every year.
Thecounty lost $6.4 million in state aid in October. Gov. William Donald Schaefer is considering another round of cuts this month as revenues decline.
Harford has a $5.8-million surplus but county administrator Larry Klimovitz said he expects the state will cut at least another $6 million next year.
Councilman Barry T. Glassman, R-DistrictD, said the county should commit itself to holding down taxes, "Evenif it means downsizing our local government."
Glassman, Parrot and Robert S. Wagner, R-District E supported a separate bill to keep the cap at 6 percent.
Glassman complained that the Rehrmann administration never bothered to report how much "working-class families" would be hurt by the higher cap.
But Councilwoman Susan B. Heselton, R-District A, replied that she "used a calculator" to determine that the owner of a $100,000 home would face $42 in higher taxes next yearunder a 10-percent cap.
In October, when the measure was first debated, County Treasurer James M. Jewell said the owner of an average $120,000 home would pay $52 more if the cap were raised to 10 percent.
"Most citizens saw more of an increase in their cable bill this year then they will see in their assessments," Pierno said.
How County Council members voted on proposal to raise property taxassessment cap
Councilor. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . YES. . . NO
President Jeffrey D. Wilson, R-At Large . . .X
*Susan B. Heselton, R-District A. . . . . . .X
*Joanne S. Parrott, R-District B. . . . . . . . . . . X
*Theresa M. Pierno, D-District C. . . . . . X
*Barry T. Glassman, R-District D. . . . . . . . . . . X
*Philip J. Barker, D-District F . . . . . . .X
*Robert S. Wagner, R-District E . . . . . . . . . . . X
ASSESSMENT CAPS IN OTHER AREAS THISYEAR
* Baltimore: . . .kept at 4%
* Baltimore Co.: . .kept at 4%
* Howard Co.: . . . kept at 5%
* Calvert Co.:. . . up (0% to10%)
* Talbot Co.: . . . down (10% to 0%)
* Other counties: . kept at 10%