Montgomery County Executive James P. Gleason has changed his property tax rate recommendation for next year, allowing homeowners only an 8-cent reduction instead of the 26 cents he proposed in February.
The reduction is to compensate for the County's loss of $14 million due to a state tax relief package. The Maryland General Assembly approved a 10 percent rollback in portion of a home's assessed value upon which taxes are levied.
That would lower the assessable base so much that the county could not afford the 26 cent rate reduction that Gleason originally proposed.
Despite the change, which must be acted on by the County Council, some homeowners may pay less taxes.
A house worth $63,000 last year ($1,165 in property taxes) would be assessed this year at $70,000 because of increased home values in the county. Without the state approved rollback and with the 26-cent reduction, the homeowner would have paid about $1,200. But with the rollback and only an 8-cent reduction, the homeowner would pay $1,140 in property taxes.
"It would appear that the average homeowner may pay a little less in taxes than last year," said county budget director John W. Short. But Short cautioned that this may not occur for some homeowners paying special area taxes for services.
Gleason had spoken out angrily against the proposed rollback, when he first unveiled his budget. "(Property taxes) are not the state government's responsibility," Gleason had said at a press conference in February. "It's our responsibility to change property taxes. They're trying to take credit for what we should be doing."
"We've heard what wonderful things the state had done for the tax-payer," said Short. "That's just not so. The state program reduces the assessable base so we have to push the rate up. It doesn't do a damn thing for the homeowner except confuse him."
The change in Gleason's recommendation plus expected state and federal aid and some surplus revenues should make up for the estimated loss of $14 million from the reduced assessable base, Short said, Gleason thus will not have to alter his proposed $564.4 million budget proposal.