Opponents say measure should be brought to referendum vote.
County Executive Rushern Baker III proposed 15 percent tax increase to fund a $133 million county increase
Fort Washington resident Earl O’Neal said he is enraged by County Executive Rushern L. Baker’s proposed 15 percent tax increase to fund a $133 million county increase in the school system budget.
“There is no doubt that there is great need in Prince George’s County. But money is not going to fix what is wrong with our schools,” O’Neal said during Monday’s County Council meeting. Thirteen people spoke out against the tax increase, and no one spoke in favor.
Approximately 45 people were in attendance.
Baker is proposing raising residential and commercial property taxes approximately 15 percent to fund a large increase in education spending by the county. He is also proposing increasing the telecommunications tax from 8 percent to 12 percent.
Approximately $127.9 million would be raised to go towards the county school system’s request of $117.5 million in addition to the $15.5 million maintenance of effort increase required under state law.
Maryland state law requires school systems to maintain as a minimum, the per pupil funding amount in the previous year, referred to as maintenance of effort.
Should the tax increase go into effect, Prince George’s would have one of the highest residential property tax rates in the state, trailing only Charles County and Baltimore city, according to data from the Maryland Department of Assessment and Tax Rate.
Tax Reform Initiative by Marylanders, or TRIM, is a county law dating back to 1978 that requires a public referendum to raise property taxes.
Baker’s office is citing a 2012 state law that allows counties to raise taxes above voter-imposed tax caps if the money is used for education.
Judy Robinson of Hyattsville, past chair of citizen committees PG Citizens for Tax Reform and Term Limitation and Truth iN Taxation, said that while the 2012 Senate Bill 848 may allow the county to violate its own charter in regards to raising taxes, she believes the county charter still applies in requiring a referendum vote on any tax increase.
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