City Council OKs Rawlings-Blake's property tax cut plan

Proposal relies on projected revenue from slots

May 01, 2012|By Luke Broadwater | The Baltimore Sun

The City Council on Monday approved Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's property tax reduction plan, which relies on projected revenue from gambling.

“I want to thank Council President Bernard ‘Jack’ Young and members of the City Council for giving relief to city homeowners,” Rawlings-Blake said in a statement.

Banking on income from a future slots location, the plan would reduce Baltimore's property tax rate by 20 cents by 2020 for Baltimore homeowners. According to the mayor's office, the plan would give an owner-occupied home, valued at $200,000, an annual tax reduction of $40 next year. That reduction would grow to $400 by 2020.

Caesars Entertainment is the leading bidder for a slots parlor in Baltimore and in March gave lawmakers explicit assurances that their company will not abandon the city for a planned casino in Prince George's County. While Caesars has not yet been awarded the license for the downtown Baltimore location, it is the only viable applicant now in the running.

Under the mayor's legislation, 90 percent of the revenue from the slots casino would go to reducing property taxes and 10 percent would fund part of a school construction initiative. Rawlings-Blake first announced her property tax plan during last summer's mayoral race, as several of her challengers proposed alternative tax-cut plans.

“Under this bill, vacant homes do not qualify for a tax cut; vacant lots don’t qualify; and speculators and owners of blighted properties won’t get a penny of tax relief at the expense everyone else. This tax cut is for city homeowners first,” Rawlings-Blake said.

The city's property tax rate is more than double that of the surrounding counties.

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