The 9,000-square-foot property has a four-car garage, six bedrooms, seven full bathrooms and three more half-baths. There are a home theater, sauna and elevator. The rooftop deck stretches 75 feet. Nearly everywhere you look, there's water — and views of other top city properties.

Merritt bought the homes in an unfinished condition for $6.1 million and spent millions more building the interior himself. It was his primary residence until his death in 2010, though he owned others, including a house on the Magothy River in Anne Arundel County.

"He liked being on the water, and being on the water in the Inner Harbor was a lot more convenient than being on the water on the Magothy," said Dorsey, chairman and CEO of Merritt's real estate company, Woodlawn-based Merritt Properties LLC.

Now the home is on the market for $8.5 million. That's more than twice its assessed value for tax purposes, but Dorsey says he and fellow trustee Robb Merritt can wait for a buyer who takes their view of its long-term value.

And they believe the property tax tab on the Merritt house — $95,000 this year — isn't going to stop potential buyers in their tracks. Typical purchasers must account for taxes when determining how much house they can really afford, they said. The well-heeled? Not so much.

"You say, 'OK, the taxes are the taxes,' and you pay it," Dorsey said. "People who can afford to live in places like that — like Mr. Merritt and Mr. Clancy — they're not pinching pennies."

Robb Merritt, Leroy Merritt's son and president of the real estate company, added with a laugh: "You notice Scott and I aren't living here."

J. Michael Martin, chief investment officer at Financial Advantage Inc. in Columbia, said the type of tax his high-net-worth clients gripe about is income tax. "I really never hear them complain about the property tax," he said, and that includes the families he advises in Baltimore.

"Don't forget, it's deductible from an IRS point of view," Martin said. For people in higher income-tax brackets, that can cut the true cost of the property tax almost in half, he said.

Kirby Fowler, president of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, an advocacy group, wasn't surprised to hear where the city's top properties are clustered. The partnership says downtown — defined as encompassing a one-mile radius from Pratt and Light streets — accounts for 4 percent of the city's land mass yet generates 13.5 percent of all property taxes. Eight of the top 10 residential properties and all but one of the top commercial buildings fall within that footprint.

City Councilman William H. Cole IV, whose district includes most of the top homes and commercial properties, said he sees it as an encouraging sign "that we have high-profile, high-wealth individuals who are willing to invest in the city."

"On the residential side, a lot of the highest units are units that have been built in roughly the last decade or less," Cole said. "That's an indication we obviously have new construction that is obviously helping our tax base significantly. It also indicates that while property taxes remain a huge issue to our growth and development, for some it simply is not a deterrent. Location means a lot."

Dan Melia, Mid-Atlantic regional vice president at REIT Management & Research LLC, doesn't have a bone to pick about either the city's highest-in-the-state property tax rate or the $1.2 million bill on the Candler Building, which his company manages.

He thinks it makes sense that the 540,000-square-foot office building on Market Place in the Inner Harbor area — packed full of tenants such as Johns Hopkins — has one of the city's top tax bills.

"Naturally I'd love to see lower taxes, but you start lowering taxes, you start taking away from services in the city," Melia said. "Everyone has an obligation. If you're going to work in the city, you should pay your fair share."

What gives him pause is that some other buildings have had their taxes dramatically lowered by various breaks. The Candler Building, which has none, isn't far from Harbor East and its major buildings with tax discounts.

"I think sometimes they do a disservice to the city, unless they're drawing [businesses] from outside," Melia said of tax breaks. "If you have a gas station across the street from my gas station, and you get a tax incentive on your gas and you get to charge $2.50 a gallon while I have to charge $3, where's everybody going to go?"

H&S Properties, the developer of Harbor East, did not respond to a request for comment. But the BDC, which recommends tax-deal packages to elected officials, has long argued that tax subsidies for some are worth the cost.

Brodie, after hearing a rundown of the commercial properties with the biggest bills, said "almost all of those were done with some form of city assistance." The Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel (No. 3 on the top 10) was built on a city-owned urban renewal site, he said. So was the top-ranked 100 E. Pratt.

The fourth-place Hyatt Regency Baltimore is actually owned by the city — the Hyatt leases the site and pays the taxes. And No. 2 on the list is the Hilton Baltimore, the Convention Center hotel owned by a nonprofit created by the city.