In Wednesday's Washington Post story detailing the Prince George's County budget, the savings created by a proposed tax rate reduction on an average house was incorrectly reported. The proposed nine cent tax rate reduction combined with a proposed assessment rollback would produce a tax bill savings of $116 on a house worth $47,000.
Prince George's County Executive Winfield M. Kelly Jr. recommended yesterday a 9-cent reduction in the property tax rate as part of his 1979 budget proposal.
The owner of a home assessed at about $47,000 (the county average) could save as much as $21 under the proposal without an increase in his assessment.
When the tax rate decrease is combined with a statewide assessment reduction that the General Assembly is expected to enact, the savings could rise to about $76.
Some 97 percent of the county's homeowners could experience some reduction in their tax bills under the combined impact of both proposals, Keely said.
The county will still be able to increase spending by about 7 percent, Kelly said, because of a $10 million budget surplus, projected increases in state aid, and accelerating economy and "old fashioned cost-cutting efforts."
The reductions are regarded as a major triumph by Kelly, who has been engaged in a heavy promotional effort to attract homeowners to the county and keep others from leaving. The budget announcement itself was also heavily promoted with pains being taken by Keely and his aides to convice reporters that his administration was holding the line on taxes better than wealthier neighbors like Montgomery County.
Stass members came equipped with lapel buttons touring the "true tax relies" coming to the county in this year election year.
"This is the number one issue in the county," said Kelly. "Generally we cut the tax rate but the bills go up. Now we are cutting their bills as well."
"With added revenues through new building starts, new projects . . . and development in the county's industrial and commercial triangles, there is new vigor coming into the county," Kelly said.
"Prince George's County has become the best buy in the area."
In presenting his $510.9 million budget to the County Council, Kelly offered something for nearly everyone.
Thirty three new teachers were proposed for the school system along with already negotiated pay raises for teachers and 5 percent cost of living increases for all nonunion county employees.
Two new libraries (in Clinton and Glenarden) were proposed while Other county libraries will be able to textend their hours.
There would be 28 new fuire department emplyes in the new budget, two new Mobile Intensive care Units (Bowie and clinton), a whole new class of police recruits and expanded but service for the elderly, who would also get more senior citizen centers.
At the state level and in most of the area's jurisdictions, this has been a year for happy budgetory announcements. Such news in election years is not unusual, although officials have universally credited other factors, such as substantial improvement in the economy and, in Montgomery and Prine George's Counties especially, increases in hosuing starts and home sales.
For the tax reductions, Kelly combined the impact expected state-level actions with his own proposals in making much of his presentation. He also lauded his own administrations's efforts at budget cutting and attracting new industry to the county.
According to Kelly's estimates of the combined import, 83 percent of the county's homeowners will recive a tax bill 7.9 percent lower than last year's. Only 4,000 families, those who recived assessment increases of 13 to 15 percent this year, will receive an increase in their property tax bill. The average assessment increases for residential, commercial and industrial property this year was 3.5 percent.
The proposed tax rate of $4.05 per $100 of assessed value includes an 11 cent reduction in last year's property tax rate of $3.41 and a two cent increase in the park and planning tax. Two other taxes included in the formula are a state property tax rate of 23 cents and a 13 cent ad valorum tax on storm drainage construction.
The County Council will now study the buddget with an eye to making further cuts. Last year it cut $5 million out of Kelly's budget. While several members said they were pleased with nine cent reduction, "we're going to make a substantial move toward reducing it further," said to council member Sarch Ada Koonce.
New programs in the budget that Kelly has proposed include:
Road repairM sidewalk rehabilitation and curb and gutter reconstruction for problems caused by servere winter weather.
Expanded hours at Prince George's Community College to accommodate an additional 667 full-time students.
Opening of the new Howard B. Owens Science Center for specialized science programs at all grade levels.
Activity rooms or discipline centers for each junior high school.
A 52-person staff increase in special eduction centers.
An additional 17 positions and full funding for the Department of Correction.