Calvert County commissioners voted against decreasing the county’s property tax rate on Tuesday night, May 2, after Commissioner Steve Weems proposed the reduction from the current rate of $0.952 to $0.928 per $100 of taxable assessment.
Commissioners considered that the decrease could jeopardize the county’s AAA bond rating by all three rating agencies. Calvert is currently enjoying this rating from all agencies for the first time ever. TheBayNet.com reports:
“One of the bond rating agencies’ concerns has always been the county’s willingness to enhance revenues and sustain those actions,” Department of Finance and Budget Director Tim Hayden stated in a memo to the commissioners. “As you know, the county’s excellent bond ratings save the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest expense over the life of the financed project.”
The commissioners voted to raise the property rate by six cents last year, the first property tax raise in the county in 29 years. The commissioners cited a number of reasons for the increase at the time, including slow recovery from the Great Recession and cost shifts from the state for public school teachers’ pensions and roads funding.
Regarding last night’s decision not to pass the decrease:
Weems acknowledged that the deceased revenue would reduce the county’s appropriation for other post employment benefits (OPEB) by $5.7 million. He added, however, county public school teachers would still get raises and the county’s road paving schedule would remain intact. Weems cited addition tax revenues coming from Dominion Cove Point in fiscal year 2018 as being further justification for the rate decrease. “What are we doing for the citizens of Calvert County?” Weems asked, adding that the residents who pay the lion’s share of the county budget with property taxes deserve a tax reduction.
The additional money from Dominion—a result of the local plant’s liquefaction project—is a $25 million payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) allocation.
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