Annapolis set to cut property tax rate City's saving offset by county increase

June 03, 1996|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

Annapolis employees will get a raise and homeowners will see their tax rate drop if the city council adopts tonight a $40.3 million operating budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The council's finance committee sliced $300,000 from the spending plan Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins presented in April, enough to drop the city's property tax rate by 3 cents but preserve a 3.8 percent raise for city employees.

The reduction would put the city's property tax rate at $1.70 per $100 of assessed value, its lowest level since 1990. But city residents won't see lower tax bills because the Anne Arundel County Council voted Friday to increase by 8 cents the amount city property owners pay the county for services the city does not provide.

That increase would effectively raise the tax rate for Annapolis residents by reducing the "tax differential" credit for city property owners for public services provided by the city. It would add $61 to the average tax bill for city residents. The city has sued the county over the increase. A hearing has been set for Friday.

"It has always been the city finance committee's mission to reduce the budget every year," said Alderman Carl O. Snowden, a Ward 5 Democrat and finance committee chairman. "But, now with the tax differential controversy, it is essential to property owners that they get some relief from the city.

"The city has managed to reduce property taxes, maintain a major work force without layoffs and continue to provide the same level of service despite the problems we've encountered along the way," Snowden said. "That's what makes this a particularly important budget this year."

The salary increase will be effective July 1 and will total $740,000 in the operating budget.

The cuts the finance committee recommended include:

$8,000 from the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County.

$12,500 from the Historic District Commission.

$30,000 from the Department of Transportation -- a vacant transit supervisor's position would be eliminated.

$100,000 from the public works budget, including a $50,000 cut from construction and street resurfacing projects and $50,000 from the residential trash collection service.

The mayor had proposed a $55 increase in the city's $225 trash collection fee, but the finance committeee recommended a $30 increase.

A $150,000 cut in the vehicle replacement program was approved two weeks ago when the council adopted the capital budget.

When he unveiled his budget, the mayor indicated his desire to keep it intact. But facing the 8-cent increase from the county, he relented and said he was willing to work with the recommended cuts.

City aldermen said they expect little opposition to the recommendations.

"I personally think it's very important to cut the budget because the city is not run that efficiently," said Alderman Shepard Tullier, a Ward 4 Democrat. "We have to lessen the burden on taxpayers.

The council also will vote on whether to reduce trash pickup from two days a week to one.

Pub Date: 6/03/96

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