Residents to see increased 'flush tax' on property tax bills

New on Marylanders tax bills this year will be an increase in the state's so-called "flush tax," which will double from $30 to $60 annually.

That was part of Harford County Treasurer Kathryn Hewitt's overview of the tax assessment process she provided at the Jarrettsville Community Council meeting Wednesday night. She also reminded everyone the importance of paying their property taxes on time.

The Maryland General Assembly approved the flush fee increase during this year's session.

Nancy Schmidbauer, supervisor of assessments for the Harford County office of the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation, spoke about what her department does and how it may affect the Jarrettsville area.

The state department defines all taxable property at market value, she said, and offers various homeowners tax credit programs and business services.

"[MDAT] encourage and promote new business to come in," Schmidbauer said, giving the example of the Route 40 corridor.

She explained that every three years the department reassesses an area's property values by looking at what homes have sold for in the real estate market.

Between 2007 and 2010, Schmidbauer said, home values dropped in the Jarrettsville area. So far, she continued, 2010's assessments are still holding.

"It's up to you to follow the market," Schmidbauer commented. She explained that a homeowner can appeal a tax assessment and a lot of people in the area took advantage of that opportunity during the 2010 assessment period.

"We're just trying to fairly value you and fair value is market [price]," she said.

Hewitt also briefly explained what the county's treasury department does.

"We're trying to take very good care of the money you don't really want to give us,' she joked.

Hewitt explained that the department is divided into two areas: revenue and accounting; property and income taxes from residents make up the vast majority of revenue.

She reminded residents that while property taxes are due Sept. 30, homeowners who pay in July will be discounted 1 percent of the county portion of the bill and .5 percent in August. No discounts are offered in September.

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