Downtown taxes likely to increase Special district to pay more under new plan

November 01, 1996|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,SUN STAFF

Downtown Baltimore business owners are likely to pay more for security, sanitation crews and long-term improvements under ambitious plan by the Downtown Management District to dress up the commercial area.

Management district board members estimate that their special district tax will increase 17.4 percent, from 30.7 cents per $100 of a building's assessed value to 36.05. The district was created in 1992 to provide a cleaner, safer environment in the 106-block downtown area.

The estimates come as city officials and the management district board members are working out an agreement that would allow the district to borrow up to $2 million from private banks to pay for improvements to sidewalks and curbs and add lighting and landscaping. Higher taxes would be needed to repay the loans.

Board members want to use that money to win additional state and federal money that could total up to $30 million for major improvements.

Yesterday, the management district appealed to the City Council's Urban and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee to give it authority to borrow money. Committee Chair Agnes Welch said, "It looks like it will come out of the committee favorable, with [minor] amendments." The mayor has said that he would sign the proposal into law.

"We're looking forward to Nov. 12," when the council is expected to vote on the proposal, said Laurie Schwartz, executive director of the management authority and president of the Downtown Partnership.

The management district is also considering borrowing only $1 million. In that case, the tax increase would amount to 7.6 percent, or 2.35 cents.

Every year, district management has increased its tax, mostly to offset declining property values, officials said. When the district began, it charged 23 cents. Since then annual tax revenue has increased from $1.7 million to $1.9 million.

Baltimore business leaders have complained that city government hasn't been doing enough to maintain downtown. They say that their plan will help keep the commercial district vital.

Pub Date: 11/01/96

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