Yes, Baltimore can cut its property tax rate

December 17, 2010

In Dan Rodricks' column "Recession changing Baltimore region's housing paradigm" (Dec. 16) he acknowledges that Baltimore urgently needs to cut its property tax rate to prevent further loss of population and investment, and he says that "somebody needs to figure this out, and fast." Somebody already has.

Last week, my organization, the Maryland Public Policy Institute (www.mdpolicy.org), published "How To Make Baltimore A Superstar City," a blueprint for reducing Baltimore's property tax rates and expanding the commercial and residential tax base for Baltimore City. The report is authored by Loyola University Maryland professor of economics Stephen J.K. Walters, Ph.D. and Calvert Hall College High School Social Studies Department faculty member Louis Miserendino.

The authors document how major property tax cuts have revived other cities by attracting new residents and expanding tax bases, and they lay out a plan that would enable Baltimore to do the same thing — without short-term budgetary trauma. In brief, they recommend announcing a binding property tax rate cut that would take effect after three years, banking the increased tax receipts (from transfers and piggy-back income taxes, among other sources) that would be realized as Baltimore began to re-populate and re-capitalize, and using the proceeds to bridge the budget gap when the cuts became effective.

Christopher B. Summers, Rockville

The writer is president of the Maryland Public Policy Institute and a Baltimore City native.

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