No, Talbot County isn’t raising your property taxes despite the state-mandated headline on page A3 of the April 21 edition of The Star Democrat which proclaimed, “TALBOT COUNTY, MARYLAND NOTICE OF A PROPOSED REAL PROPERTY TAX INCREASE.”
A dire warning? Proof of the same old Maryland way: Tax it if it moves, or for that matter, tax it if it’s inert or dead? An abandonment of the promise the Talbot County Council made on March 26?
None of the above. It’s the state of Maryland’s prescribed method of establishing “constant yield” and giving citizens a say in the process of property taxation.
“The Constant Yield Tax Rate is a State Law that exists solely for the benefit of the taxpayer,” the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation explains. “It represents a clear and direct opportunity for citizen input to influence the level of property taxation.”
Only, it’s not that clear.
“We’re putting this big sign out there that says we’re raising your taxes, but the rate is actually staying the same,” Talbot County Finance Director Angela Lane said in a phone call this week. “We do think some people feel that we’ve lied to them when this ad hits, and we really didn’t, honest — we told them the truth because we aren’t changing the tax rate.”
“We’re keeping the tax rates the same,” Lane said. “But because we’re not reducing them to the constant yield rate, we have to publish this notice. The wording of the ad is actually in state law.”
The constant yield rate is the rate the county would have to set property taxes for the upcoming year that would generate the same amount of income as the current year. Most folks probably don’t notice that rate staying the same.
Citizens reap the benefits of property tax assessments. Next year, the county could collect $268,560 in additional revenues — without raising the property tax rate.
Lane said if the county were to set the tax rate at the constant yield rate, an ad wouldn’t be necessary. “But because we’re using the current tax rate and not the constant yield rate, we have to do an ad because we will generate more money than what we generated in the current year because our assessments have increased. We’re not changing the rate.”
Property assessments, for the most part, increase, Lane said. When assessments decrease, some jurisdictions raise their property tax rate. Some just try to find the funds elsewhere and keep the property tax rate the same.
“We will generate additional income because assessments have increased,” Lane said. “That’s a given, and I don’t think most citizens really have a problem with that.”
If you’d like to weigh in on “the proposed property tax rate increase” that’s not, you’ll have an opportunity at 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 5. While you can’t attend in person, you can attend virtually at www.youtube.com/midshorecommunitytelevision. You also can submit comments by May 12 via email at email@example.com or by snail mail to Constant Yield Public Hearing, 11 N. Washington St., Easton, MD 21601.
For more detailed information on constant yield, visit the Department of Assessments and Taxation’s website at https://dat.maryland.gov/realproperty/Pages/Constant-Yield-Tax-Rates.aspx.