Advertisement

Tax set-off panel should eye proposals by Swartz, McKee

February 26, 2001

Tax set-off panel should eye proposals by Swartz, McKee



Hagerstown and Washington County officials studying the so-called "tax set-off" have come up with a new wrinkle that would probably please taxpayers in incorporated municipalities, even if doesn't make their elected leaders happy.

At present, the county gives incorporated towns lump-sum payments to compensate for the fact that these smaller governments fund some of the same services, like policing, that the county provides.

The set-off amount is based on population, assessable base and taxable income, but payouts are also subject to a cap which the City of Hagerstown claims is abitrary. Without it, city officials said they would have received an additional $734,000 from the county this year.

Instead of that, committee members studying the set-off are looking at the possibility of setting a different county tax rate for those residents who already pay municipal taxes. That would eliminate lump-sum payments to the municipal governments, but ease the individual taxpayers' burden a bit.

Advertisement

While they're looking at that, we suggest the committee also explore two other proposals. The first, advanced last year by County Commissioner Paul Swartz, would have provided tax credits to county residents over 65 to cushion the impact of any tax increase, a move County Treasurer Todd Hershey said would be legal.

The other is a proposal by Washington County delegation chairman Bob McKee that would give county fire/rescue workers a break on their personal property taxes, at a cost to the county of $425,000 a year.

On one hand, Swartz's proposal would shield those over 65 from the impact of any tax increases, in recognition of the fact that in most cases, their peak earning years are past. However, the large number of seniors in the community might severely limit the size of the individual credit.

On McKee's proposal, a $425,000 drop in revenue wouldn't be easy for the county to make up, but if it preserves the volunteer force here, it would probably save money in the long run. Both proposals deserve some of the committee's attention.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|