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New property assessments will arrive soon

Washington County residential properties that last were assessed three years ago have dropped an average of 22 percent

Washington County residential properties that last were assessed three years ago have dropped an average of 22 percent

December 29, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- New property assessments, reflecting an historic drop in residential values, were to be mailed to one-third of Washington County's property owners Tuesday.

Washington County residential properties that last were assessed three years ago have dropped an average of 22 percent, according to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.

The county's commercial property values, though, have gone up 2.7 percent during that period, department data shows.

The new values go into effect Jan. 1, 2010.

Statewide, residential values in the latest round of reassessments are down 19.7 percent over three years, while commercial values are up 5 percent.

The residential decline is the largest the state has seen since the Department of Assessments and Taxation began in the 1970s, said Robert Young, the department's deputy director.

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Young said he thinks somewhere around 50 percent of the state's residential property values declined during the 1970s drop. In the new reassessment, 93 percent of the state's residential values dropped.

At 99.54 percent, Washington County was topped by only two other counties.

In Maryland, properties are reassessed every three years, about one third at a time.

The roughly 20,500 residential and 1,200 commercial property values mailed Tuesday were for eastern and northern parts of Washington County, such as Cascade, Smithsburg, Longmeadow, Fountain Head and Boonsboro, according to Adam Lewis, the assistant supervisor of the Department of Assessments and Taxation's local office.

The newest values show how deeply the housing market has fallen.

In 2006, when the market was peaking, Maryland property values -- residential and commercial combined -- were up 60.2 percent from the last reassessment.

The increases dwindled to 33.2 percent in 2008, then 0.8 percent for 2009.

Now, 2010 values are down 16.1 percent since the last reassessment.

Officials are reminding property owners to apply for a Homestead Tax Credit, which limits assessment increases for tax purposes. People who live on property they own are eligible.

State law says the taxable value of property can go up a maximum of 10 percent in one year.

Municipalities may set lower caps. Washington County's is 5 percent.

Lewis said the cap is a bigger factor in controlling local property taxes, which are larger than state property taxes.

Washington County's property tax rate is 94.8 cents per $100 of assessed value, Lewis said. The state property tax rate is 11.2 cents per $100 of assessed value.

Applying for homestead credit



Under state law, annual increases in Marylanders' taxable property value are capped.

The limit is 10 percent statewide. Washington County's cap, for figuring local property taxes, is 5 percent.

To receive the credit, property owners must file a one-time Homestead Tax Credit Eligibility Application.

People who live on property they own are eligible.

Applications may be filed at https://sdathtc.resiusa.org/homestead.

The Washington County office of the state Department of Assessments and Taxation can be reached at 301-791-3050.

The office will be open Wednesday, but closed Thursday as part of state budget cuts and Friday because of the holiday.

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