Condos, taxes and a dose of reality

May 02, 2012

Your recent editorial ("Money that slipped away," May 1) is ridiculously naive in its conclusion that "someone in the state agency screwed up" and "that the owners of those two prestigious developments appear to bear little or no responsibility for this circumstance." Please understand that this "circumstance" occurs on every condo project every day and has for recent decades.

The city is well aware that certificates of occupancy have been issued on finished units. Experienced developers are well aware of the major cash cow of avoiding property taxes on unsold units. It's Development 101. In the final stages of most projects, there are instructions to construction managers by the owners, directing that a critical item, such as a sink or toilet, or row of kitchen cabinets, be left in storage somewhere to be installed upon sale of the unit. This prevents the issuance of the certificate of occupancy and the "what is automatic in most cities" generation of the appraisal and tax bill.

Let's get back to reality here. There is only one explanation for this — money is going into someone's pocket at the city. This story is almost as old as time itself. Now we have to listen to the responsible public servant bring up the same old discussion of "the incredibly complex issue of the definition of a finished unit" while there have been many thousands of units built in every city in the country over decades. Wow! Only in Baltimore! Please, wake up!

Gary Moyer, Baltimore

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