Tag Archives: property tax rate

Bitter budget battle in Prince George’s ends with Rushern Baker waving a white flag. He surrenders finally.

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By Arelis R. Hernández June 19 at 5:25 PM
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) announced Friday that he will accept the 2016 operating budget approved by the County Council and not challenge it in court, bringing an end to the most bitter battle he has waged with the council since taking office.

In a statement, Baker said he decided to put the interests of county residents “ahead of a lengthy and divisive legal process” surrounding a section of county law that he and the council interpreted differently.

The litigation would have fostered “uncertainty and disharmony,” the statement said.

The council rejected Baker’s proposal for a 15-percent hike in the property tax rate to generate more funds for public schools. Baker then vetoed parts of the budget passed by the council, demanding a tax rate hike of 11.45 percent. But the council overrode that veto and stuck with a 4-percent property tax rate hike — the first in Prince George’s in more than three decades — and a 1.5-cent increase in the park and planning tax.

Baker went on a countywide tour this spring to drum up support for his proposal to raise taxes dramatically to generate $133 million for public schools. He argued that better schools would boost home prices, attract new families and businesses and improve the county’s regional competitiveness.

But he failed to convince residents or win cooperation from lawmakers. The council passed an alternative budget that cut most of the Baker’s new initiatives and eliminated proposed furloughs and layoffs.

Baker then said that the county was barred by law from adjusting his proposed budget by more than 1 percent — a contention that council members said was ludicrous.

In his statement, Baker said the controversy over school funding was evidence that “we are very passionate about this place we call home.”

via Washington Post

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Update: Budget war in Prince George’s: Council overrides Rushern Baker’s vetoes

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The council reconvened at 8:30 p.m., with Deni Taveras (D-Adelphi) absent, and voted 8 to 0 to kill each of Baker’s 32 line-item vetoes, restoring the budget they passed on May 28, 2015.

June 16 at 10:15 PM

The Prince George’s County Council voted Tuesday to override budget vetoes handed down by County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, rejecting for the second time in three weeks a proposed double-digit increase in the property tax rate.

The decision illustrates a stark shift by the nine-member council, which has supported most of Baker’s major initiatives throughout his 4 1 /2 years in office.

It reflects concern among lawmakers about increasing the tax burden on the county’s residents, who already are taxed more than residents of neighboring jurisdictions and were hit hard by the recession and foreclosure crises. And it demonstrates skepticism of Baker’s theory that an infusion of money into the troubled public school system will catapult it from the bottom of state rankings to the top over the next five years.

Baker (D) said he vetoed parts of the council-approved budget for two reasons: Because he thinks more spending for schools is vital to the county’s future and because he thinks that the council acted illegally by trimming his budget request by more than 1 percent.

Council members say the second rationale is based on a misinterpretation of a 2006 law that addresses the council’s ability to adjust revenue projections — not budget appropriations.

Baker’s interpretation “is wrong and would unconstitutionally erode our system of checks and balances and give the county executive the near-unlimited power to raise taxes,” said Mel Franklin (D-Upper Marlboro), the council’s chairman.

Baker waited until a 5 p.m. deadline Tuesday to send his vetoes to the council, long after lawmakers’ legislative session was scheduled to have ended.

The council reconvened at 8:30 p.m., with Deni Taveras (D-Adelphi) absent, and voted 8 to 0 to kill each of Baker’s 32 line-item vetoes, restoring the budget they passed on May 28.

The council’s overrides reinstate a 4-cent increase in the property tax rate. Baker had originally proposed a 15-cent increase, then floated an 11.45-cent increase on Monday.

Although the amount is significantly smaller than what Baker sought, it would be the first property tax increase in Prince George’s in nearly four decades — a blow to anti-tax activists who pushed through a tax cap in 1978 and have defended it ever since.

Baker circumvented the cap using a 2012 state law that allows rate increases in excess of statutory limitations if they are specifically designated to fund approved public school budgets. Although members of the council objected during weeks of heated public hearings, they ended up implicitly endorsing the approach by voting for the 4-cent increase.

Lawmakers also overrode Baker’s veto of a 1.5-cent increase in the Prince George’s park and planning tax.

What happens next is unclear. Citizens could go to court to challenge the county’s decision to raise property taxes.

And Baker said Monday that the council’s override could be vulnerable to legal challenge as well, based on his contention that county law prohibits the council from adjusting the budget up or down by more than 1 percent.

Franklin called Baker’s discussion of litigation “embarrassing and strange” for the county as well as “self destructive and self-defeating.”

“Hopefully, the county executive will not go down that road.”

If no one challenges the budget, the version approved by the council would take effect July 1, the start of the fiscal year.

That budget eliminates furloughs and layoffs that Baker proposed to deal with a revenue shortfall and provides money to shore up teacher pensions. But it does not fund any of the programs Baker and school chief Kevin Maxwell have proposed to try to remake the public school system.

Read more >>> It’s an official big mess in Prince George’s County

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Baker’s interpretation “is wrong and would unconstitutionally erode our system of checks and balances and give the county executive the near-unlimited power to raise taxes,” said Mel Franklin (D-Upper Marlboro), the council’s chairman.

WRC_0000000010667624_1200x675_454237251635Mel Franklin (D-Upper Marlboro), the council’s chairman called Baker’s discussion of litigation “embarrassing and strange” for the county as well as “self destructive and self-defeating.”

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Pr. George’s Council approves 4% raise in Property taxes.

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A divided Prince George’s County Council passed a budget Thursday that would require a a four-percent increase in the property tax rate to generate revenue for public schools — far less money than proposed by County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, but still the first property tax hike in the county since voters approved a tax cap 37 years ago.

In a meeting that started more than two hours later than scheduled, council members rejected Baker’s proposal to raise taxes by a whopping 15 percent, generating $133 million in new money for public schools.

They also refused to consider a compromise plan — put forward by Baker on Wednesday — that called for $65 million in new schools funding.

Instead, the council voted 6-to-3 in favor of a budget that would raise the tax rate by 4 percent, generating $34 million in new schools money.

In order to take effect, the proposed tax rate must be the subject of a public hearing and another council vote before the start of the fiscal year on July 1.

>>> Read more Washington Post.

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