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From the Desk of
County Commissioner Blaine Young

(7/2012) It is that time of the year again. The first of July means that it is time for all Frederick County property owners to get their property tax bills.

This year when you get your real estate tax and fee bill, from the Frederick Treasurerís office the bill will have a new look at the direction the Board of Commissioners.

The new format includes a breakdown of the expenditures that are funded by the county property taxes so that you can see exactly how your tax dollars are spent.

As in past years, a breakdown of income tax revenue is not included since that distribution comes from the State of Maryland.

Now, why the change you ask? Simple. This Board of County Commissioners has the goal of better communicating to you how and where your tax dollars are allocated by category and how your tax dollars are spent.

The new tax bill is a work in progress and the Board of County Commissioners welcomes feedback to further the transparency of how the county uses your tax dollars.

When property owner receive their tax bills it will cover the period from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013.

A 1% percent discount for the county tax portion is available to those who pay their tax bill during July. After July 31st, property owners still have time to receive one half of a percent discount for the county real estate tax portion for payments made by August 31.

The Board and I want to reiterate that the real property tax rate is set at $.936 per $100 of assessed value. If the county wanted to produce the same real property tax revenues as last year, the tax rate would have to have been increased to $.9663. This is called the constant yield rate.

The commissioners made a pledge to the voters and taxpayers of Frederick County that we would not raise taxes. So, the tax rate was kept the same, which is $.0303 less than the constant yield tax and is in essence a tax decrease.

The majority of the Board of Commissioners has looked into every opportunity to reduce recurring expenditures and reduce the structural deficit.

Unlike most counties who are facing deficits and being forced to raise taxes, Frederick County is fortunate to have a 29 million dollar surplus as a result of the difficult budgetary decisions that have been made by this Board since taking office on December 1, 2010. Because we were not able to lower the tax rate do to uncertainty at the federal and state government compiled with structural issues we inherited, the majority of the Board agreed that the taxpayers should share in the surplus.

After all it is your money.

Under state law our only choices was to either provide you with a home owner occupied tax credit on your bill or a home owner occupied tax rebate.

The Board chose a rebate of $100 dollars versus the tax credit because most property owners have a mortgage and the taxes are escrowed. The Board wanted this rebate to be in the hands of the taxpayers so that you can determine how it is saved or spent.

Once again, it is your money.

You have the right to do with it as you please. This concept is hard for some people to grasp because every special interest group always believes that they know best how to spend your money.

Whether you agree or disagree with the actions of the current Board of County of Commissioners you can not say that the majority of the Commissioners have not kept their word as promised to those who voted for us.

I have been quoted as saying that I believe government should make no contributions whatsoever to non-profit organizations. That is not entirely accurate. Let me set the record straight.

I do not believe that government should be making cash donations to select non-profit organizations which provide specific services or otherwise spend the money they collect. Many of the non-profit organizations that support certain causes or provide services to specific segments of the community are very worthwhile. I support many of them personally with my own and my familyís resources. But if it is just a donation, I believe the donations should come from private individuals and companies, through individual choice, not forced donations from the taxpayers.

However, if a non-profit organization provides a service that otherwise would be part of the traditional range of services provided by government (such as fire and rescue), then I believe an appropriate level of government funding is appropriate. County government has long contributed to these organizations.

I have a personal and deeply held belief that it is not the role of government to extract money from its citizens by coercion (i.e. taxation) and redistribute that money to select organizations which happen to be in the favor of the people currently sitting in office. Government should support these worthwhile organizations in other primarily non-monetary ways, and in Frederick County we do that in a very big way.

Did you know that many non-profit organizations in Frederick County collectively receive a tax break of over $10 million per year? Thatís right, these organizations, if required to pay county property tax like everyone else, would be paying over $10 million into the county coffers. I do not Ė and have never Ė supported revoking this select tax status for these organizations, but most people do not realize how much of a break the taxpayers are giving these organizations by allowing them to exist and support their organizations free of county taxes.

Also, Iíll bet many people didnít realize that even with the proposed cuts in funding to non-profits there is still over $26 million of direct support in the FY2013 county budget for the poor, the needy and those who need a hand up. I call this community support, and no one is talking about eliminating this aspect of the budget.

Also, apparently the idea that elected officials would actually keep their word is also a concept that some people are having trouble grasping.

For more information on your property tax bill, visit www.FrederickCountyMD.gov/treasury or contact the Treasurerís Office at 301-600-1111.

Read other articles from Frederick County Commissioners