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Letters to the editor

March 10, 2006

Property assessment 'sledgehammer' hits long-time residents



To the editor:

The way Washington County was 45 years ago was bound to change; we all knew it would have to. No longer do employers respect their employees, as companies and corporations seek ways to increase profits and look out for the top CEOs and their underlings.

Some corporations fail because they try to keep the businesses in the U.S. Others leave to find cheap labor and seek relaxed environmental laws. They forget the working class and its efforts to make an honest living.

The salaries paid out to state and county leaders are exorbitant. All county department heads should have their salaries published yearly in the local newspaper. That would astonish those with meager pensions and skimpy Social Security incomes. The problem is that we cannot vote ourselves a nice raise.

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As a life-long resident of this county, I am fortunate enough to have a pension, which is now being chopped to pieces because our economy is doing so well. So I am being told. I will be 60 years old, not considered old these days, but in 2004 I had many health problems, which forced me to retire.

My illness cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, so I am short of funds to pay all these new fees that are being put on the taxpayers. You know, the VEIP, flush fee, (that if I did not pay, a lien would be placed against my home) and the doubling of tag fees. I just am too busy working a minimum-wage job to pay these fees. But, when I received my new assessment, I felt the sledgehammer smack my forehead.

I worked for a union shop and made good money and paid plenty of taxes, both state and federal, at a rate of 40 percent or more on my weekly earnings. I worked for the state parks system four years, and now am employed part time just to pay the new fees and taxes imposed on me.

So what do you do? Well, you sell out and move. Most of us are very well pleased to be here, but incoming residents want change, radical change, and our county leaders are trying to grab all they can.

But we are overloaded now; they must stop the growth, stop taxing and punishing those of us who want to stay here, the ones who made this county what it is.

Assessments are way out of line with the wages paid in this area. When an appeal is made the question is asked: Would you sell your home for its appraised value? Ninety percent of the residents would love to, but know they cannot rebuild at today's cost of real estate. So who is the winner? No one. We all are losers, and there has to be a line drawn in the sand. Long-term residents should not be faced with a decision as to what they will have to do to pay these immoral property tax assessments.

The final word is for every one to get out and vote and take the issues more seriously. Look at our county leaders and their tax-and-spend attitude with total disregard as to the repercussions on schools and such.

I voted for all who are in office now, but they may not get my vote this term. County Commissioners President Greg Snook must wake up, as well as the others, as to where they are taking us. He and the others will have to live with the decisions that have been and will be made in our future.

Robert W. Weaver Sr.

Williamsport




Maryland's senior citizens desperately need some income-tax relief



To the editor:

Support income-tax relief for seniors. Elderly persons in Maryland have to get by on fixed incomes. They are faced with large increases in expenses, especially medical expenses for prescription drugs and for health insurance premiums, if they even have health insurance.

Medical expenses take a larger share of total expenses of the elderly than of the nonelderly on average. Transportation, home heating and cooling expenses are also rising rapidly, as are property assessments and taxes.

There is a large disparity in the amount of the special personal exemption for elderly taxpayers ($1,000) as compared with the $2,400 special personal exemption available for elderly dependents.

This inequity is the result of an oversight by the Legislature when it reduced income taxes by 10 percent in the late 1990s.

It is time for the oversight to be corrected and for the inequitable treatment of elderly taxpayers to be eliminated.

By providing a small amount of tax relief to Maryland's elderly, the state can provide some incentive for them to stay in Maryland. More seniors leave Maryland than enter it. Seniors contribute to Maryland's economic vitality and community activities.

Shirley Aurand

President

NARFE Chapter 306

Hagerstown

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