County rebates with one hand, sends tax bills with another



For many Washington County homeowners, the $150 tax rebate checks mailed by the County Commissioners last month were spent almost as quickly as they were received.

The commissioners sent out the rebates, costing $5 million, to approximately 36,000 residential property owners as a tax relief measure.

While many residents said it was a nice gesture, they also said they received their tax bills a day or two after the rebates, so the money will end up going back to the county.

"The check came one day, and the tax bill came maybe two days later," said Jim Marshall, 66, of Hagerstown.

Woody Graham of Hagerstown said mailing the rebates was an "element of show biz" by the County Commissioners.

"They give with one hand, and take away with the other," Graham said.

Several people said their taxes went up, and that it might have made more sense to credit property tax bills than to issue checks.


"It was a nice surprise," said Charles Lowe, 64, of Smithsburg. "They'll just get it right back."

Lowe said the commissioners probably could have used the rebate money on county programs.

Martha Moler of Smithsburg said receiving the rebate was nice, but that it went back to the county with her tax bill.

"I think what they should have done was taken it off the tax bill," Moler said.

"They wasted a lot of money doing it that way," said her husband, Thomas Moler. "Or they could've kept it and spent it on something else."

Bill Freed of Hagerstown said he was glad to receive the money.

"Anytime you can get a little tax relief, I think that's wonderful," Freed said. "I think our taxes are too high. Some people thought it was silly, but I'll take it."

"For me, I would have preferred they just kept it because there are plenty of things it could have been used for in the county," said Elizabeth LaRue, 51. As a teacher, LaRue said she would have preferred the money go back into the schools.

Rebecca Beecroft, also a teacher, said she put her rebate check in the bank, but also thinks the money should have been used for schools.

"We have schools right now that have no air conditioning," she said.

Robert Brundrett of Keedysville said he thinks the gesture was misguided.

"I think it was a stupid idea. If they wanted to cut taxes, cut taxes," he said. He said that issuing checks to county residents "was a waste of time."

Terry Moore, 52, of Hagerstown, who pays both city and county taxes, said he appreciated the check, but thinks taxes are too high.

"It was a good thing, but I think taxes are too high," he said. "If you live in the city, why do you have to pay both city and county taxes?"

Irving Shankle, 58, of Hagerstown, said he also pays both city and county taxes. He got his rebate check about a week ago.

"I think it was a good idea to use the money to go right back into the community," he said.

Brett Knutson, 28, of Hagerstown, said he liked getting the rebate check.

"Absolutely. All free money is a good idea. All I know is a check arrived in the mail," he said as he was loading supplies from The Home Depot into his car.

Frederick Penderwhite, 65, of Williamsport, felt similarly. He, too, had just made a trip to the home improvement store. He said he plans to put his $150 check "back into the house."

"It's good to give the money back 'cause it helps build the economy," he said. Penderwhite said the move was similar to a move made by President Bush, which he said worked, too.

Penderwhite suggested that developers should build substations and schools when they build in the county to help pay for their impact.

Marlene Flippen, 43, of Hagerstown, said she liked getting the check in the mail.

"It's money in my bank account," she said.

Mark Younker, 31, of Clear Spring, said he got his rebate check already. However, Younker said there probably are other areas of the county that need money, too.

"My road's kind of bumpy now," he said.

Hagerstown resident William S. Keefer thought the rebates didn't amount to much tax relief.

"It was just a drop in the bucket," Keefer said.

Keefer said a day after he received his check, he received his county property tax bill, which had gone up. He said he pays more than $3,000 in taxes.

"So it doesn't amount to anything," Keefer said of the rebate.

The Herald-Mail Articles