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Some will pay more as commission fails to cut 'constant yield'

May 07, 2000|By SCOTT BUTKI

Starting July 1, some Washington County residents will pay higher property taxes than they could have because County Commissioners have not rolled back the constant tax yield rate, a state official said.

What amounts to an average tax hike of $22 per year will come in addition to $102 per person in proposed tax increases approved by the commissioners Tuesday.

The constant tax yield rate is set so the county will receive the same revenue as in the previous year, said Washington County Commissioner Bill Wivell, who is also an accountant.

Property owners are currently taxed at $2.31 per $100 of assessed value, according to county documents. But because of increases in property assessments, the county would have needed to cut the rate to $2.26 to avoid extra costs to property owners, according to county documents.

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The county will net an extra $1.4 million next year by keeping the rate the same, according to county documents. County Administrator Rodney Shoop confirmed that amount.

Property in the county is reassessed every three years, but that is phased in over a three-year period, Wivell said. Not all property owners pay a higher assessment, though, he said.

The increase would amount to about $22 next year for the median property owner, said Tim O'Rourke, supervisor of Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation's Hagerstown office. He did not have an estimate on how many property owners would be affected, he said.

On Tuesday, the County Commissioners tentatively voted 3-1 to increase the property tax rate to $2.37 per $100 of assessed value, which would raise $1.65 million more than the current rate of $2.31, according to budget documents. That increase would cost the average taxpayer about $29 a year, according to the county.

They also voted to increase the income tax rate, which would cost the average taxpayer about $73 a year, according to county documents.

Commissioners Paul Swartz, John Schnebly and Bert Iseminger voted for the tax hike while Commissioners President Greg Snook voted against it.

Wivell missed the meeting because he was sick but has promised to vote against any tax hike when the official vote on the budget occurs later this year.

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