Baltimore County Council OKs $1.15 billion budget Piggyback tax rate is boosted to 55%

May 29, 1992|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

The Baltimore County Council yesterday approved a $1.15 billion budget for next year that includes an increase in the piggyback income tax rate, to 55 percent from 50 percent, but no change in the property tax rate.

As part of a deal with County Executive Roger B. Hayden, the council also cut $7.2 million from the executive's proposed budget. And Mr. Hayden agreed to reallocate the money to hire (( 40 new police recruits, restore cuts in the Fire Department's emergency medical services program and buy $1 million worth of computers for schools. The remainder of the money, $4.5 million, is to be added to the county's $5.5 million "rainy day fund," which was created to guard against state budget cuts this fall.

The council overwhelmingly supported the plan. Only Dundalk Councilman Donald C. Mason, D-7th,voted against the piggyback increase. Mr. Mason, and the four other freshmen council members, were elected in 1990 on a wave of voter anger about rising property taxes and increased government spending.

Council Chairman William A. Howard IV, R-6th, who strongly espoused the tax-cutter's philosophy during the campaign, said the immediate criticism over the council's decision to raise taxes will be great.

"Votes will be lost. Some friendships will be affected," he said during a public address on the budget yesterday. But, Mr. Howard said, raising taxes to bolster public safety "was just the right thing to do."

Councilman Mason disputed that. Despite the loss of $62 million this year from state budget cuts and declines in tax revenue caused by the recession, the council and the county "have not yet taken the first step to structurally downsize government," he said.

The budget agreement represents the first time the County Council has reallocated potential budget cuts in order to add money for county spending, rather than cutting spending in order to reduce taxes.

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