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City raises tax rate four cents

May 27, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

Hagerstown City Council members voted 4-1 on Tuesday night to hike the annual property tax rate by four pennies starting July 1.

The hike means an additional $16 a year in property taxes on a home with an assessed value of $100,000, City Finance Director Al Martin said.

The annual rate will jump from $1.70 per $100 of assessed value to $1.74.

The last time the council raised the property tax rate was for fiscal 1990-1991, when it was raised from $1.68 per $100 of assessed value to $1.71. The previous administration cut the tax rate by a penny to $1.70 per $100 of assessed value for fiscal 1995-1996.

The council also adopted a $73 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Councilman Alfred W. Boyer was the sole council member to oppose the tax hike and budget.

Boyer asked his colleagues to reconsider and raise the tax rate by only three pennies, but they couldn't be persuaded.

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Councilman J. Wallace McClure said he would agree with the other three council members since they have more experience. However, next year he would be better prepared to take a stand, he said.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said the council could consider reducing the tax rate in a year if the city's financial outlook has improved.

It would help council members reduce taxes if they could control large costs such as police overtime, Metzner said.

The tax rate could go up again next year.

City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman has said he proposed raising the tax rate by 7 cents this July 1 to prevent further increases in the near future.

Zimmerman said it was too soon to tell whether he would recommend a tax increase again next year since the council only approved a 4-cent hike.

The council delayed proposed increases to water and sewer rates until they could further review utility budgets.

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