Nick Mosby proposes 15 percent cut in Baltimore residential property taxes, new municipal trash fee

As mayor, City Councilman Nick Mosby says he would drop property taxes, break out fee for trash disposal.

Mayoral hopeful and City Councilman Nick J. Mosby detailed his plan Tuesday to cut property taxes for homeowners by more than 15 percent while charging separately for trash pick-up.

Mosby said he would "responsibly" drop the effective rate residents pay from $2.13 per $100 of assessed property to $1.80, under a plan designed to make Baltimore more competitive by establishing a tax rate closer to what surrounding jurisdictions charge.

"We need sound solutions to really tackle the systemic and structural issues that have plagued our city," he said at an announcement from his headquarters at Clipper Mill. "We know that through public education, through public safety and crime, and through the cleanliness of our city.

"Property tax reduction is a critical component to spurring growth in our communities."

Mosby's proposed rate is based on an analysis of how much the city needs to provide essential services and programs he can cut in the $2.55 billion budget to free up money. He previously released a 15-point plan that calls for prekindergarten for all children, new recreation centers and more money for the police Warrant Apprehension Unit.

Businesses and rental properties would be charged $2.10 per $100 of assessed property, down from $2.25.

Combined, the tax cut would cost $120 million.

Mosby could not say how much he would charge for solid waste disposal. The fee — which would depend on how many homes use the service — would have to raise $68.5 million to match what the city spends now.

Homeowners would not be able to opt out of the service, but commercial buildings or condominiums that use third-party vendors wouldn't be charged unless they wanted to use city pick up, he said.

The plan generates another $51.5 million for the tax cut by spending less on parking enforcement, emergency and 311 call centers and the telephone system used by city workers. Mosby said he will look to replicate programs run more efficiently in cities such as Chicago and San Antonio.

Increases in home values and a new approach to managing vacant houses help raise enough cash to offset the tax cut, he said.

Baltimore's property tax rate is about double what surrounding counties charge their residents. In many cases, Mosby said the city's rate looks inflated because it includes the fee for trash service. Others, such as Anne Arundel and Howard counties, charge separately.

Mosby said he does not see the plan as creating a burden that hits lower-income families harder than wealthier ones.

"Everyone's getting a tax break," he said. "I don't see it as a regressive tax. You're already paying it."

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake — who is not seeking re-election — set the city on a course to cut property taxes 20 cents by 2020. So far, she trimmed 14 cents since 2010.

Mosby, who worked in the telecommunications industry for a decade, said he can save $8.3 million on Baltimore's municipal telephone exchange. The phone system, managed by Comptroller Joan M. Pratt, is budgeted to cost $10.3 million this year.

To come up with the cost savings, Mosby said he would replicate the program in San Antonio and use the same equipment.

"It takes leadership," Mosby said. "Relationships are the key to being an effective leader."

Mosby will face a crowded field of Democratic challengers in the April 26 primary. Candidates include former Mayor Sheila Dixon, state Sen. Catherine E. Pugh, City Councilman Carl Stokes, lawyer Elizabeth Embry and businessman David L. Warnock.

Baltimore Sun reporter Luke Broadwater contributed to this article.

ywenger@baltsun.com

twitter.com/yvonnewenger

Copyright © 2017, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
57°