Pre-Meeting for February 14th 2013, Council Meeting
This evening the Town Council will vote on whether to eliminate Cheverly’s Tax Cap, an action that has been discussed publicly in town meetings and in the Town Newsletter since August of last year. During this period, the Mayor and Council have listened carefully to residents, and have weighed carefully arguments both pro and con.
As always, residents are welcome to come and voice their opinions. However, regular town meeting procedures do not allow for direct interaction between the council and residents. Therefore, the Mayor will be available from 7:00pm to 8:00pm prior to the meeting if you would like a more open conversation.
As background, below is a letter to the editor of the Gazette regarding their article on the Cheverly Tax Cap, please take a moment to review. ==============================================================
In the article “Cheverly Officials Consider Eliminating the Property Tax Cap” the reporter compared Cheverly’s Tax Rate (58 cents) to the average Maryland Municipal Tax Rate (33 cents). The casual reader would be led to believe that Cheverly’s Tax Rate was out of line and that eliminating the Tax Cap would further exasperate the problem. The casual read might also infer that all other municipalities have a Tax Cap which is why the average rate is 33 cents.
In my 30 minute conversation with the reporter we discussed a number of topics, but we never discussed the 33 cent average rate mentioned in the article. If we had discussed the statistic I would have provided the following perspectives:
- There is also no linkage that a Tax Cap limits Tax Rates. Of the 157 municipalities in Maryland only 13 have a Real Property Tax Cap.
- Of the 27 Prince George’s County municipalities only two have Real Property Tax Caps, besides Cheverly, and those municipalities have Tax Rates of 71 cents and 74 cents.
- Comparing municipalities that reside in separate counties makes no sense as municipal services are a complement to the county services they receive. If you compare Cheverly’s Tax Rate to other Prince George’s municipalities you’d find that: our tax rate is the twelfth lowest, it is below the 58.2 cent county median, and it is also below the 60 cent county average.
- Comparing municipalities statewide means you are comparing Cheverly (the 32nd largest inner beltway municipality with 6,300 residents) to cities like Baltimore and also to the more than 60 towns that have less than 1,000 residents.
Additionally, it is also important to note that when the Cheverly Town Council raised the Tax Rate, from, 48 to 58 cents in 2012, total revenues from Property Tax declined by over 160 thousand dollars. That means that on average each resident paid less in Town Taxes this year than in the previous year. While that might seem strange, you must remember that property assessments in Cheverly dropped by over 21%.
The point of my letter is that the Tax Cap is an artificial mechanism that prevents residents from focusing on what is truly important. What should be important to each resident, in any municipality, are their Tax Rate, their total Tax Bill and whether the services they receive are commensurate to the price they pay. I was very pleased to hear that long time resident Deborah Yates and local real estate agent Susan Pruden felt that Cheverly’s services measure up.