In a year when the city is claiming that property tax rates have been reduced, the reduction that many property owners are enjoying is in historic tax credits based on expensive capital property improvements.
This weekend, approximately 1,500 cards from the city Department of Finance arrived with first-class postage across the city notifying recipients of "some changes in the Historic Tax Credit (CHAP Credit) given by Baltimore City for qualifying properties."
The upshot of the "changes" is that the "credit has been reduced from the prior year due to an incorrect calculation." The notice goes on to reassure homeowners that "the City of Baltimore has decided not to seek repayment of the prior years."
For my property, this "change" translates into a 30 percent increase in taxes that were supposedly frozen according to the terms of the 10-year tax credit as it was granted in 2007. I found this out when I called the contact number listed on the card.
I also found out that the Department of Finance had not clued in the poor city employees on the receiving end of angry phone calls that these cards had been sent out. The Collections Call Center representative had no idea what notice I was referring to and could not answer my questions, despite the claim on the card that they were the folks to contact if one had "any questions about the calculation" of the tax bill.
Instead, I was told to leave my name and phone number and someone would call me back within 10 days.
I'm not sure how the Finance department is going to explain the city is partially reneging on tax credits established seven years ago and convince me that I should be happy they are not going to seek repayment for prior years.
As a lifetime resident of the city, I am finally close to throwing in the towel. My resolve to support the city no matter what is weakening as I watch my good faith over the decades answered by disincentives and this latest example of sheer bad faith.
Dante Beretta, BaltimoreCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun