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Duncan's Faith May Not Follow Church

Now, local leaders say, comes the hard part -- convincing Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) to sign the bill.

The bill would permit police to use cameras and radar equipment to record motorists' speeds in those zones. If a motorist is traveling 10 mph or more over the speed limit, the camera will take a picture of the license plate, and a ticket of up to $40 will be mailed to the owner of the vehicle.


DUNCAN

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The General Assembly approved similar legislation last year that applied statewide, but Ehrlich vetoed it. He and several other Republicans in the General Assembly said they were worried the practice was merely another tool for local governments to raise money.

Even though this year's bill applies only to Montgomery, local leaders are not sure the bill will make it past Ehrlich's desk.

But Rockville Mayor Larry Giammo has launched a campaign asking residents to contact Ehrlich to urge that he sign the legislation.

"We have taken numerous measures in recent years to slow traffic in residential neighborhoods," Giammo said in a statement. "The General Assembly has approved use of a measure that would be important to these efforts. We strongly urge residents to contact the governor and ask him to allow Montgomery County to use photo radar to help protect our citizens."

Anti-Tax Feelings Grow

Anti-tax activists in Montgomery are stepping up their campaign to convince the County Council to offer broad property tax relief in next year's budget.

Last Thursday, the Montgomery County Taxpayers League and a newly formed organization called Tax Cap Now held a protest at the County Council Building before a hearing on the fiscal 2006 budget.

About two dozen citizens, including former county executive Neal Potter (D), showed up at the meeting holding "Tax Cap Now" signs.

"People were shocked when they saw their tax assessments and now are worried about what their tax bills will be," said French Caldwell, a Tax Cap Now organizer. "I basically said we really got to make a strong visual presentation on the council, and we definitely did."

During the hearing, Marvin Weinman, president of the Montgomery County Taxpayers League, urged the council to abide by a voter-imposed cap on property taxes.

In 1990, Montgomery County voters approved a charter amendment that limits the county to collecting property taxes equal to the previous year's total plus inflation and the value of new construction. Seven of nine council members, however, can vote to override that limit, as they have for the past three years.

Duncan is requesting a 2-cent cut in the property tax rate for next year, far short of the 7.5-cent cut that would be needed to abide by the charter limit.

If seven of nine council members accept Duncan's plan, owners of a $400,000 house in Montgomery would see the tax bill go up by $310 next year.


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