Montgomery Residents Vote to Remodel Property Tax Structure, Expand Council Membership

Through votes on four proposed charter amendments, Montgomery County tackles Council representation and property tax calculations. Unofficial results from the Montgomery County election point toward approval of Questions A and C by comfortable margins.

Currently, Montgomery County has a limit on the amount of revenue that can be generated through property taxes that is tied to the previous year, and inflation. This requires the Council to set a rate each year that ensures they do not bring in revenue exceeding the limit. This prohibits the County from bringing in revenue even if the tax base was to expand, or property values in the county increased. Question A, which looks likely to be approved, will allow the Council to set a consistent tax rate with changes allowed after approval of all nine councilmembers. Question B on the other hand would largely maintain the status quo by keeping the revenue cap but limit property tax revenue increases to the rate of inflation.

How residents elect Councilmembers was also on the ballot this year. The Council is currently made up of nine members, five elected by individual districts, and four at-large members. Question C, which currently has more than 61 percent of the vote, would add two districts and retain all four at-large positions, expanding the Council to 11 members. Competing ballot initiative, Question D, would have simply split the county into nine individual districts with no at-large members. The proposal was promoted by a group of residents who believe the number of at-large members leads to decisions being made by the more populous area in the southern part of the county.

Question language and vote percentages as of 5:00 PM on November 4:

Question A 
Charter Amendment by Act of County Council
Property Tax Limit – Limit Tax Rate Increases

For: 178,370 (62.4%)

Against: 107,367 (37.6%)

Amend Section 305 of the County Charter to prohibit the County Council from adopting a tax rate on real property that exceeds the tax rate on real property approved for the previous year, unless all current Councilmembers vote affirmatively for the increase.

This amendment would replace the current property tax limit, which requires an affirmative vote of all current Councilmembers to levy a tax on real property that would produce total revenue that exceeds the total revenue produced by the tax on real property in the preceding fiscal year plus any increase in the Consumer Price Index. The current property tax limit exempts real property tax revenue derived from: (1) newly constructed property; (2) newly rezoned property; (3) certain property assessed differently under State law; (4) property that has undergone a change in use; and (5) property in a development tax district to provide funding for capital improvements.

Question B
Charter Amendment by Petition
Property Tax Limit – Prohibit Override

For: 118,285 (41.6%)

Against: 165,886 (58.4%)

Amend Section 305 of the County Charter to prohibit the County Council from levying an ad valorem tax on real property that would produce total revenue (not including property tax revenue from certain enumerated sources) that exceeds the total revenue produced by the tax on real property in the preceding fiscal year plus a percentage of the previous year’s real property tax revenues that equals any increase in the Consumer Price Index. Section 305 currently permits the County Council to exceed the limit on real property tax revenue only upon the affirmative vote of all current Councilmembers.

Question C
Charter Amendment by Act of County Council
County Council – Increase to 11 Councilmembers

For: 175,161 (61.5%)

Against: 109,675 (38.5%)

Amend the County Charter to:
– expand the County Council to consist of 11, rather than the current 9, Councilmembers;
– increase from 5 to 7 the number of Council districts; and
– elect 7 Councilmembers by district and 4 Councilmembers at large.

Question D
Charter Amendment by Petition
County Council – Alter Council Composition to 9 Districts

For: 117,733 (41.6%)

Against: 165,589 (58.4%)

Amend Sections 102 and 103 of the County Charter to:
– divide the County into 9, rather than the current 5, Council districts;
– elect all Councilmembers by district, rather than the current 5 by district and 4 at large; and
– reduce from 5 to 1 the number of Councilmembers each voter can vote for.

Vote totals and percentages in this article are based on unofficial results of the Maryland State Board of Elections as of 5:00 pm Wednesday. Official results will follow. Readers are advised that unofficial results are subject to realignment in the days ahead and official results will follow after a full accounting of pending ballots. To view the most up-to-date unofficial results, visit the State Board of Elections website.

Useful Links:

MD State Board of Elections Results Page

Previous Conduit Street Coverage

Montgomery County 2020 Ballot

Conduit Street Coverage: Ballot Questions Across the State

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