South Carroll Residents Agitating For Anti-tax Group

March 15, 1992|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff writer

ELDERSBURG — Herb Hickman, a retired Navy chief petty officer, estimates he will pay an additional $300 in property taxes this year.

That's becausethe real estate assessment on his four-level, two-car garage home oneight acres rose 30 percent last year.

He finds that hard to believe.

"We're in a recession -- there's no two ways about it," he said. "They want to come up to us and taxus more. I don't get it."

Neither do other South Carroll residents who, along with the 57-year-old Hickman, are working to form a county chapter of the year-old Maryland Taxpayers Association.

"There's a lot of unrest out there because of the property taxes -- primarily," said John O'Neill, the vocal president of the Maryland Taxpayers Association who has become a fixture in Annapolis.

"As usual, there are state issues upsetting people, too. People don't realize the magnitude of what the state is going to do with the piggyback tax or the severity of taxes being considered."

Before the General Assembly, he said, are bills that would raise the state's sales tax rate, boost income taxes for wealthy Marylanders, increase taxes on various businesses and raise "sin taxes" on alcohol and tobacco. In addition, plans are in the works to close sales tax exemptions, or expand the sales tax base to include currently untaxed services, such as utilities.

Other bills would permit Baltimore and the 23 counties to raise their local "piggyback" income tax rates from 50 percent of what the state collects to 60 percent.

"We hope that through the help of Herb Hickman and others at both ends of the county to get an organization together that will educate people about these issues," O'Neill said.

Hickman said about 50 people, including many retirees, have expressed interest in joining a local organization. He said a group of 40 people met recently at the Eldersburg branch of the county library to learn about the assessment appeal process.

Hickman said the assessments for most South Carroll homeowners have increased 30 percent to 50 percent, and many people are upset.

"When you have to work well into April or May to get your taxes paid, something is wrong," hesaid.

His hope, like O'Neill's, is that the Carroll group will focus not only on local tax issues, but also on statewide tax proposals.

"We're going to be looking at everything the General Assembly does that rubs us the wrong way," he said. "We're going to be watching what happens with taxes. And we're going to let people know what should be done about it."

O'Neill said he believes there's widespread interest in such a group across Carroll County. He said there's more vocal interest from South Carroll because those residents received their assessments last year.

He said he has received about 90 calls from Carroll residents interested in the taxpayers association. In addition, he estimated about 2,000 of the 26,000 signatures the state group collected on petitions opposing taxes came from Carroll County. The petitions were given to the General Assembly March 6.

"Statewide issues are of interest to everybody in the county," he said.

The state group formed last February. There are now local chapters in 15 counties and Baltimore.

Anyone interested in joining may call Hickman at 795-0791.

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