The governments of Harford County and its three municipalities are approving their budgets for the spending year that begins July 1, and, as was the case last year, owners of property in Aberdeen will be paying the highest real estate tax rate in the county.
The lowest rate charged will be levied against properties outside the three municipalities.
Each year when county and municipal governments set their spending plans, they also consider adjusting their property tax rates. This year, the Havre de Grace City Council reduced its tax rate by 2 cents per $100 of assessed value, while Bel Air, Aberdeen and Harford County rates were held the same as last year.
Just because tax rates are steady or even reduced doesn't mean tax bills will stay the same or be reduced. That depends mostly on whether the value of individual properties increase or decrease.
Aberdeen held its property tax rate at 68 cents per $100 of assessed value, Bel Air kept its at 50 cents, and the reduction in Havre de Grace brings that municipality's rate to 56 cents per $100 of assessed value.
The county government tax rate for properties in Aberdeen, Bel Air and Havre de Grace is 89.6 cents per $100 of assessed value, but those municipalities also charge varying tax rates. Meanwhile, the county tax rate for properties not in the municipalities is $1.042 per $100 of assessed value.
Aberdeen city residents end up paying the highest total tax rate in Harford County, a total of rate $1.576 per $100 of assessed value, which is the county rate of 89.6 cents plus the Aberdeen rate of 68 cents. The combined real estate tax rate in Bel Air is $1.396 and the combined rate in Havre de Grace is $1.456 in 2014.
In Havre de Grace, the City Council and some city residents praised the mayor's administration for making the decrease possible.
"It's nice to see, when you pick up the paper and see other municipalities, other counties, growing their government," resident Steve Gamatoria told the council during a recent budget public hearing. "Havre de Grace is setting a standard where they are doing the opposite."
The list of top taxpayers in the municipalities and county has stayed fairly consistent in recent years as well.
The top contributors in Harford County overall in 2012, the most recent year immediately available, were BGE at $8.3 million; Exelon at $1.9 million; Verizon at $1.8 million; MCI Communications at $1.3 million; and Constellation Power Source at $1.3 million.
The top taxpayers in Havre de Grace for the current fiscal year are Blenheim LLC at $82,406; MEPT 1900 Clark Road at $74,334; CONSTAR Inc., at $69,300; JSG Heron Harbor LLC at $66,768; and MTBR Ventures LLC at $47,259.
In Aberdeen, the top taxpayers for 2012 were Inland American at $232,013; 913 Old Philadelphia Road at $179,455; KRK Title Holder LP at $175,713; Walmart Real Estate at $115,879; and Frito-Lay at $113,560.
Harford Mall is the top taxpayer in Bel Air, although the details from the town were not available in time for this article.