Home Values Increase an Average of 8.1% in Most Recent Property Assessments

The State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) will be sending property assessment notices this week for the 740,000 properties that were assessed in this cycle.  Based on this round of assessments, home values increased an average of 8.1%.

As reported by the Baltimore Sun,

The second year in a row of growth in home values reflects overall improvement in the housing market since 2011, the last time this group of properties was evaluated for tax purposes. At the time, the housing markets were in turmoil as short sales and foreclosures dragged prices down.

This year, values increased for about 74 percent of the residences considered. That’s up from 2013, when just over half of the homes increased in value and a reversal from 2012, when 76 percent of residences posted declines.

Commercial property assessments push the statewide average higher.

Overall property values in Maryland rose 10.8 percent, including 18.6 percent among commercial properties, the department found. The Washington suburbs fueled the gains, led by Prince George’s County, where residential values jumped 23 percent.

Detailed information on property assessments and a county-by-county comparison can be found on SDAT’s website.

Representative Delaney Introduces Legislation to Generate Revenue for Infrastructure

U.S. Representative John Delaney recently introduced legislation that would reform the country’s tax system to generate revenue for transportation infrastructure. As reported by the Hagerstown Herald-Mail,

The Infrastructure and Global Tax Competitiveness Act, according to Delaney’s office, would strengthen America’s economy “by rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure and reforming the broken corporate tax code.”

“The bill deals with overseas earnings … we create a path for all of it to come back,” Delaney said.

The bill offers to use repatriated revenue to increase infrastructure investment “by imposing a mandatory deemed repatriation tax on corporate earnings currently held overseas,” according to a news release. The repatriation tax rate for U.S. corporations would be a reduced rate of 8.75 percent if those corporations buy bonds to benefit transportation projects in the U.S.

Under the plan, tax revenue would be used to make the Highway Trust Fund, which pays for road construction and projects, solvent for six years, and it would allow for the creation of the American Infrastructure Fund, a $50 billion dollar fund that would be leveraged to finance $750 billion of transportation, water, energy and education projects.

Since Congress has adjourned for the year, the legislation will need to be reintroduced when Congress reconvenes in January.

To learn more about this effort and others to make infrastructure a funding priority, attend the 2015 MACo winter conference session “Making Public Infrastructure the People’s Priority.”

Speakers:

  • The Honorable John Delaney, United States House of Representatives
  • The Honorable Bryan Desloge, Second Vice President, National Association of Counties and Commissioner, Leon County, Florida
  • Dr. Memo Diriker, Director, Business, economic, and Community Outreach Network (BEACON), Perdue School of Business, Salisbury University

Moderator: Honorable Isiah (Ike) Leggett, County Executive, Montgomery County

Date & Time: Thursday, January 8, 2015; 9:00 am – 10:15 am

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference:

Questions? Contact Meetings & Events Director Virginia White.

What Your Federal Delegation Can Do for You

Baltimore
Port of Baltimore

The recent spending bill passed by Congress included funding for several infrastructure projects in Maryland.  As described in our posts, Congressional Spending Bill Includes $70.3 Million For Maryland Waterway Projects, and Congress Passes $1.1T Spending Bill, Avoids Shutdown, Congress’s spending bill included $100 million for the Red Line, $63 million for the port of Baltimore and $1.5 billion over a decade to update Metro’s infrastructure.  According to coverage in the Baltimore Sun,

The bill’s passage marked a political victory for Senate Appropriations Committee chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat and a chief architect of the measure. Mikulski and Democratic leaders managed to move the bill through Congress despite deep concerns voiced by members of both parties. . .

And as reported by the Delmarva Now,

U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has announced the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 includes $70.3 million for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects in Maryland.

At this year’s MACo Winter Conference, representatives from the Office of U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski will share how federal policy and funding assist infrastructure repair and development in Maryland.  Panelists will describe how to work with your federal partners to address needs in your community.

  • Speakers: Lori Albin, State Director, Office of Senator Barbara Mikulski and Amy Seeberger, Outreach, Projects, and Grants Assistant, Office of Senator Barbara Mikulski
  • Moderator: John F. Barr, Board of County Commissioners, Washington County, Maryland
  • Thursday, January 8, 2015; 2:15 pm – 3:15 pm

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference:

Questions? Contact Meetings & Events Director Virginia White.

Senator Edwards Proposes Compensation Formula For Counties With High Percentage of State Owned Land

A December 17 Cumberland Times-News article reported that Senator George Edwards will propose a formula that will provide consistent payments to a county where the State owns a high percentage of land within the county.  The article noted Allegany and Garrett Counties have the most amount of State-owned land, with 24 percent and 22 percent of acreage being State-owned respectively.  Such land is not taxed and cannot be developed.  State reimbursements to such counties have fluctuated and been unreliable over time.

Sen. George Edwards plans to propose a way to compensate counties for the limitations they face because of the high proportion of land owned by the state.  …

The senator hopes to stabilize the income by introducing legislation creating a set fee for the state to pay to counties to compensate for the control of the land. Edwards said he’d like to see a payment based on each 10,000 acres of state owned land. For instance, the state would pay $250,000 for the first 9,999 acres, then additional fees for state-owned acreage in 10,000-acre increments.

Payments could be tied to the consumer price index and adjusted based on economic conditions, Edwards said.

State Launches RISE Zone Program to Help Spur Economic Development

The Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) has launched a new state program aimed at tapping into the economic development potential surrounding higher education institutions and certain nonprofits.  As reported in the Baltimore Business Journal:

The state is now taking applications for its new Regional Institution Strategic Enterprise Zone program (called the “Rise Zone” program for short). It requires two application stages. The first stage, which is now open, requires higher education institutions, regional higher educational centers or nonprofit organizations that are associated with federal agencies to apply to the state Department of Business and Economic Development. The state will then qualify those groups.

At that point, institutions that have qualified will need to work with a county or city government on a second application. The second application will go to DBED to create the RISE Zone.

Once a zone is established, businesses that relocate or expand in the zone would be eligible for certain benefits such as property tax credits. The partnership with local governments to complete the second step of the application process helps ensure the proper businesses are targeted and that the proper incentives are granted to reflect the needs of the local jurisdiction. As reported in The Daily Record:

The program was designed to leverage the expertise of the state’s colleges, universities and federal research hubs, and amplify their potential to create new jobs and activity in their own backyard, said Mark Vulcan, DBED’s program manager for tax incentives.

“The other important part is to have the local jurisdictions sign off, because they’re the ones giving up the tax revenue,” Vulcan said, adding that it’s possible some jurisdictions may not be interested in that idea.

For more information:

Maryland is Accepting Applications to Create Economic Development Zones Around Colleges (Baltimore Business Journal)

Program Hopes to Spur Economic Projects Near Universities, Nonprofits (Daily Record)

RISE Zone website

State Shortfall Grows to $1.2 Billion As Revenue Projections Fall Short

The Board of Revenue Estimates announced yesterday that the State’s budget gap for fiscal years 2015 and 2016 has increased to $1.2 billion. As reported by the Washington Post,

The Board of Revenue Estimates projected the state will collect $123 million less in revenue than previously forecast during the remainder of this fiscal year, which ends in June, and $148 million less during the following year.

The write-downs widen what were already projected gaps of nearly $300 million this year and $600 million next year in Maryland’s roughly $16 billion general fund budget.

Federal cutbacks were attributed to the lower than anticipated revenue projections. Revenue generated through the personal income tax was reduced most significantly indicating slower than expected job growth. As reported by the Baltimore Sun,

Most of the budget woes announced by the Board of Revenue Estimates stem from Maryland’s job market’s improving more slowly than officials predicted when they put together projections a year ago. Although Maryland’s revenue continues to increase year over year, it is not growing fast enough to keep up with spending plans.

Officials blamed gridlock on Capitol Hill and the reverberating effects of last year’s sequester as the prime culprits suppressing Maryland’s recovery.

Comptroller Peter A. Franchot said it was time to end the state’s reliance on federal jobs — which employ about 300,000 people in Maryland — and federal contracts to buoy the state’s economy.

To control spending, the University System of Maryland has instituted a hiring freeze and state agencies have been asked to “trim expenses.” However, it’s unclear at this time how Governor O’Malley and Governor-Elect Hogan will address the budget shortfall.

A spokesman said that Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley does not have plans to formally cut the state’s current budget during December, and that the governor is “still evaluating what additional action might make sense.”

Hogan, a Republican who takes office Jan. 21, said Monday’s new numbers were “no surprise.” He cautioned residents to prepare for what may be painful budget cuts next year.

Harford County Executive Glassman Proposes Hotel Tax, Repeal of Stormwater Management Fee

Harford County Executive Barry Glassman has proposed legislation to impose a 6% hotel tax in the county and to repeal the county’s stormwater management fee. The legislation was introduced by the County Council during its meeting last week.

As reported by the Baltimore Sun,

The hotel tax would levy 6 percent of the rent paid, for stays of up to 30 consecutive days, in an inn, motel, cottage, hostel, rooming house, guest house, bed-and-breakfast or tourist home.

Glassman plans to spend all the revenue on promoting economic development through a competitive grant process “with built-in accountability,” he said in a press release Wednesday.

Half of the revenue collected from the tax will be paid to the mayor and city council of a municipality, if it is collected within a municipality. The rest of the revenue would go toward county tourism activities.

The other piece of legislation would repeal the county’s 2013 stormwater management fee.

Glassman said in a Wednesday press release that he looks forward to the fee’s reconsideration.

“While the rain will no longer be taxed in Harford County, I look forward to working with Gov.-elect Hogan and the Maryland General Assembly to find common sense solutions that help protect the Chesapeake Bay,” Glassman said in the release.