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Don't chase away Baltimore's rich, too

Jamie Smith Hopkins and Scott Calvert wrote an excellent in-depth article about Baltimore City property taxes ("Distorted discount," Dec. 18). However, I am perplexed that they seem to think that Baltimore's wealthy are getting a "break" because of the Homestead tax credit.

They report that John and Angelina Guerriero's property taxes would be $61,700 without the $48,800 tax "break." Does anyone really think that Baltimore schools and services are worth $61,700? That comes to over $169.00 a day! The Guerrieros are paying $12,900 a year in property taxes on their $2.6 million home. They also mentioned that Mr. Guerriero grew wealthy by building Continental Foods into a $100 million dollar family empire. Why is this relevant? Does the fact that the man is wealthy somehow justify an obscene property tax bill of $61,700? And do I need them to point out to me that a man who can afford to live in a $2.6 million house is wealthy?

Why don't they report on how many jobs Mr. Guerriero created over the years while building his business? They also go after Constellation Energy Chief Executive Mayo Shattuck III and his wife. They report that the Shattuck's "tax break" was $22,000, and just happen to mention that Mr. Shattuck was paid $15.7 million last year. Might I suggest that Ms. Hopkins and Mr. Calvert report on how many city residents not only pay zero in property taxes but also live rent-free because the Department of Housing and Urban Development pays their rent for them every month?

I applaud Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake for not jumping on this class warfare bandwagon. She faces daunting challenges and seems to be speaking and acting reasonably about how to fix Baltimore's property tax problem. The current tax system has already chased the middle class away from the city. Do we really want the rich people to leave too?

Tony Johns, Upperco

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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