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Tax hike proposal finds little support

May 14, 2000|By SCOTT BUTKI

Most of the people who participated in an informal survey Sunday said they oppose the Washington County Commissioners' plan to raise taxes, but some also said they don't want cuts to the county school budget.

cont. from front page

The response by Woodrow Fauber of Maugansville was typical of the dozen people who participated in the informal poll.

As for a tax hike, he said, "I don't think it's a good idea."

However, he also said he didn't think the County Commissioners should give the Washington County Board of Education less than it requested.

Gerald Davis, Eric Brown and Art Dieter said they would support a tax hike if the money would go to the schools, and not to pay for raises or other county expenses.

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"Nobody likes to see their taxes hiked," said Bill Aldridge, a Washington County resident. If the taxes are necessary because of the School Board, then the county should find a way to hike taxes just for those parents with children in the schools, he said.

"I don't think they should raise taxes," said Keith Byers of Hagerstown. As for School Board funding, he said he wouldn't mind seeing some administrative positions eliminated.

"I don't like it," Lee Rohrer of Hagerstown said of the plan to raise taxes.

Rohrer and Sandy Bowers said they don't believe the county needs more tax proceeds to pay for the schools.

Gary Flook pointed to the gas pump he was using to fill up his car's tank and asked why there would be a need for more taxes when he is already paying so much in gas and sales taxes. He opposes a tax hike, he said.

But Dick Myers said he would support a slight tax increase.

"If it helps the county I think it's worthwhile," Myers said.

At a May 2 meeting the Washington County Commissioners tentatively approved a budget that was balanced by raising property and income taxes. A final vote on the tax hikes will come later this spring, following a public hearing on the budget at 7 p.m. on May 23 at Hagerstown Community College.

The county's $121.45 million proposed budget calls for $64.6 million for the School Board, or $1.6 million less than the School Board requested.

Not all of the people surveyed across Washington County said they are against raising taxes.

"I don't have a problem with that," Linda Richards of Hagerstown said of tax hikes. The money for projects needs to come from somewhere, she said.

Rodney Hart agreed: "If that's what they have do," then it's fine, he said.

The commissioners voted 3-1 May 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 President Gregory I. Snook voted against the tax hike and Commissioner William J. Wivell missed the vote because he was sick. Wivell has said he will vote against any tax hikes.

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