The Anne Arundel County Council will hold a hearing Monday on a resolution that would cap county income taxes at 2.5%.
Councilman Nathan Volke, R-Pasadena, proposed the cap after County Executive Steuart Pittman’s fiscal year 2020 budget included an income tax rate increase from 2.5% to 2.81%. That’s about $310 a year for families making $100,000.
Volke said he put forth the resolution to let residents decide on the tax increase. He said choose 2.5% since its the current rate and close to previous rates in the past 20 years. If the resolution passes — Volke needs five votes — the cap would be placed on the 2020 election ballot as a referendum question.
Volke is confident voters would approve it much like they approved the county’s property tax cap in 1992. Volke did not respond to a request for comment in this story.
He did comment in a previous story discussing the cap proposal.
“I don’t think the people who voted for him [Pittman] voted for this,” Volke said after introducing the cap. “Don’t think they voted for a totally different vision of government than Steve was offering.”
Anyone wishing to testify on Volke’s resolution can sign up before the council meeting begins at 7 p.m. The council meets two Mondays a month in the Arundel Center council chambers. Comments are limited to two minutes. Signing-up is not a requirement to speak at the hearing.
Passing the resolution will prove difficult for Volke, who has to convince two Democrats to join his cause. The council has a Democratic 4-3 majority, and charter amendment resolutions require a supermajority.
Democrats on the council have not expressed any intent to sign onto Volke’s legislation.
Council chair Andrew Pruski said he opposed the cap because it limited the government’s ability to respond to issues and needs.
If the economy crashes, how does the county government pay for firefighters, police, Pruski said.
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“I think it is a bad policy,” Pruski said. “I don’t think it is prudent or fiscally responsible. If you don’t like the rate, vote against it.”
In other business, the council will hold the annual hearing on the constant yield rate. Maryland law requires municipalities hold hearings when they plan to exceed the rate.
The constant yield rate produces the same revenue as last year’s budget along with new construction revenue.
Despite former County Executive Steve Schuh proposing and passing a small property tax cut, the county still exceeded the constant yield rate by about $6 million. The constant yield rate was 89.29 cents per $100 of assessed value. The county settled on a tax rate of 90.2 cents.
While the annual hearing is standard, this year’s hearing is likely to be affected by Pittman’s proposed income and property tax increases. On top of the proposed 2.81% income tax rate, Pittman has proposed increasing the property tax rate from 90.2 cents to 93.5 cents per $100 assessed value.
Pittman has pitched the property tax increase as restoring the rate following “political” reductions in previous years. Maryland state law allows the county executive to bypass the county’s property tax cap by only spending the acquired funds on education.
Some have praised the increases to education and other spending, but other residents are concerned the county executive is raising the rates too quickly and is forgoing his campaign pledges of fiscal responsibility.