Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

February 11, 2007

Rising assessments sink home values

The article on property reassessments contains this reassuring statement: "Many homeowners won't feel the full impact for years because increases are capped" ("Reassess- ment shocker," Feb. 4).

But the reality is that the new property tax assessments will quickly reduce the market value of city properties because the new values determine the taxes future buyers will pay.

Because buyers take into account the tax liability associated with their purchase, they will reduce the amount they are willing to pay for a property.

Because of the high city tax rate and the large changes in assessed values, these impacts will be substantial.

Every $100,000 increase in assessed valuation creates an added burden of $2,288 annually for city taxes on a future new Baltimore property purchaser (compared with $1,100 annually in Baltimore County and $918 annually in Anne Arundel County).

Because the new assessments create further disparities between the tax liabilities for property ownership in the city and other jurisdictions, the economic penalties of living in Baltimore will be increased.

Depending upon what economists call "elasticity of demand," property values in the city could be reduced so substantially that city property tax receipts could fall well below what they would be if the city had a lower tax rate.

Baltimore's extraordinarily high property tax rate was less significant when real estate values were low.

Now it should be a major, immediate concern to city officials as well as property owners.

G. Edward Dickey

Baltimore

The writer is an affiliate professor of economics at Loyola College.

GOP is still backing failed Iraq policies

Senate Republicans have obstructed a resolution to oppose President Bush's escalation of the Iraq war ("GOP blocks anti-surge resolution," Feb. 6).

Republicans continue to protect Mr. Bush's failed Iraq policy while ignoring the large majority of Americans who oppose Bush's troop escalation.

But is victory in Iraq achievable by escalation?

No. Mr. Bush allowed victory to slip away long before the first shot was fired through his reckless, and incompetent, preparation for war.

Too few troops, not enough international support and no real plan for the occupation are just a few of the factors that have contributed to his failure in Iraq.

The Iraq Study Group suggested an honorable way out of Iraq. Instead, Mr. Bush chose escalation, turning more U.S. troops into human fodder in a civil war to avoid taking blame for losing Iraq.

The Bush presidency will end. But American taxpayers will be paying to clean up Mr. Bush's mess for a generation.

Richard L. Ottenheimer

Pikesville

Senate can enable lower medical costs

The idea that we should let the government negotiate the best price for delivering drugs to a huge market of Medicare and Medicaid patients belongs in the "duh" category - unless, of course, you have close connections with the rapacious pharmaceutical industry ("Increase planned for medical costs," Feb. 4).

The House has taken the common-sense step of voting to repeal the shameful prohibition on such negotiation that was included in the Medicare drug benefit legislation.

Now the Senate has the opportunity to agree to alter one of the several flawed provisions in that flawed law.

We will all be watching to see what the Senate chooses to do.

Anne MacLeod

Annapolis

Act to safeguard our diamondbacks

How can Maryland allow the exploitation of the Chesapeake Bay's beloved terrapin ("Terrapin catch raises alarms," Feb. 7)?

Everyone says he or she wants to save the bay, but it's the same old window-dressing. No one wants to make the hard decisions.

The bay is nearly lifeless as it stands. The oyster population is nearly extinct. Menhaden are depleted. What's next?

I am sick and tired of hearing about the woes of the watermen.

They, like other people who have been displaced by economic changes (including yours truly), will simply have to obtain new skills to survive.

Mike Ludwitzke

Baltimore

Report underscores case for clean cars

Last week's report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change clearly validated the reality of global warming and made very clear that burning fossil fuels is the driving force behind global warming ("Turning up the heat," Feb. 2).

The Maryland clean cars bill would addresses global warming, air pollution and related health issues.

Republicans and Democrats agree that this bill would reduce ozone pollution, carbon dioxide pollution, nitrogen pollution and benzene emissions.

The IPCC's scientific report makes it very clear that our planet is warming.

We have a measure before us that can help stop this insidious cycle. What is there to gain by failing to pass it?

Maryanne Nobile

Baltimore

City's cinema elite could save Senator

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