SDAT Offers Guidance for Constant Yield Advertisements/Hearings Amid COVID-19 Epidemic

In response to the COVID-19 epidemic, counties have implemented several measures designed to prevent community transmission, while at the same time allowing for essential business to continue. With these procedures in mind, the State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) is offering guidance for counties to comply with the strict procedures governing advertisement and public hearing for tax rate increases above the constant yield tax rate.

The constant yield tax rate is calculated by SDAT for each taxing authority in Maryland. It represents the real property tax rate for the coming tax year that will generate the same amount of revenue that was generated during the current tax year.

As assessments increase, the constant yield tax rate decreases. Implicit in this concept is the idea that a tax rate at or below the existing tax rate is a tax increase if it is higher than the constant yield tax rate. When a taxing authority plans to impose a real property tax rate that is higher than the constant yield tax rate, it must advertise the tax increase and hold a public hearing.

Under the constant yield tax rate law, taxing authorities are required to (1) provide information to the public about the constant yield tax rate and the assessable base and (2) hold public hearings regarding proposals to enact a tax rate that is higher than the constant yield rate.

Because state statute dictates specific language for tax increase advertisements, SDAT is offering guidance for counties that wish to hold these public hearings remotely. SDAT offered the following examples of recently approved language:

    1. A public hearing on the proposed real property tax rate increase will be held at 6:30 p.m. on April 21, 2020, at (location).

      Persons with questions or wanting additional information regarding this hearing may call (XXX) XXX-XXXX extension *XXXX, refer to the Public Hearing Notice at (website) or email (email address) to receive an electronic copy.

      Due to the COVID-19, and in lieu of public appearance:

      Citizens can (1) Call-in number to listen to the Public Hearing at (XXX) XXX-XXXX, Access Code#XXXXXX; (2) Submit a 3-minute video clip to (email address) between April 2, 2020, 8 AM and April 16, 2020, 5 PM or (3) Call (XXX) XXX-XXXX extension XXXX to speak at the Public Hearing by telephone.

      Written comments may be submitted on or before April 28, 2020, to:  (Address),  or to (email address).

    2. A public hearing on the proposed real property tax rate increase will be held at 7:30 p.m., on May 4, 2020. The meeting will be held remotely via video teleconference. To join the video conference: (Zoom link). To join with audio only: (Phone number) US, Meeting ID: (Meeting ID number)

      The hearing is open to the public, and public testimony is encouraged.

      Participants who join the video/audio conference will be enabled to speak by the meeting chair. Speakers will be allowed to address the Council for two (2) minutes. Public Comment may also be made using the e-comment feature at (website) or emailing (email address). All electronic comments must be submitted by 6 PM on May 4, 2020. Comments received will be read by (City/County) staff during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Note: Although this language has been approved by the Department, counties should consult with SDAT prior to the publication of advertisements that do not meet the requirements specified in state statute.

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