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Mayor says state funding cuts may bring tax increase

March 12, 2003|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner said Tuesday night that $700,000 in state cuts affecting the city could result in a 4-cent property tax increase.

Breichner said he faxed a letter Tuesday to Del. Robert A. McKee, the chairman of Washington County's delegation to the General Assembly, about the governor's proposed budget and several other issues that could affect the city.

"My concern is that the governor's proposed budget will ultimately force Hagerstown to raise property taxes," Breichner wrote.

A 4-cent property tax increase would generate $720,000 to make up for the $700,000 in state cuts, City Finance Director Al Martin said after Tuesday's mayor and City Council work session.

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For a property owner with a home with a $100,000 market value, a 4-cent tax increase would amount to $40, Martin said. The city's property rate is 76.8 cents per $100 of market value.

A property rate increase of 3.6 cents went into effect this fiscal year, Martin said.

The $700,000 impact comes from a proposed $637,640 cut in the city's share of highway user revenues and an administrative service fee the state proposes charging local governments for property tax assessment services, according to the letter. The fee would cost the city $45,000.

Other potential cuts could affect the HotSpot program, Program Open Space and the Community Parks & Playgrounds program, he wrote.

Breichner addressed several other issues in his letter that focus on the city getting its share of state revenue.

Specifically, Breichner mentioned requests that the city be given a share of revenue from the hotel/motel tax and from the county's proposed excise and real estate transfer taxes.

"Based on the response received to date, we are concerned that the needs of Hagerstown are being overlooked by our local Delegation," Breichner wrote.

McKee, R-Washington, could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Breichner wrote that the city would be required to collect the proposed building excise tax and the city should be reimbursed for that expense.

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