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Councilman proposes cutting property taxes

A Baltimore city councilman believes the city could slash its high property tax rate, if all properties —including those owned by nonprofits — are assessed fees for certain services.

"We have to find a way to broaden the tax base for our city," Councilman Carl Stokes said at a Monday news conference. "That would allow us to begin to reduce the property tax burden on our city."

Under Stokes' proposal, which is still in the nascent stages, residential property taxes would fall as much as 50 percent in the next decade, although homeowners, businesses and nonprofits would pay a fee that would cover the cost of running an agency, such recreation and parks or the police. Nonprofits do not pay property taxes.

Stokes said he has just begun discussing the idea with the other council members and Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake. He does not plan to introduce legislation until the fall, but said he wanted to float the idea while the city is focused on the budget.

The City Council is holding a series of hearings this week on Rawlings-Blake's proposed budget, which would close a $121 million shortfall with $50 million in new taxes and fees, and $70 million in cuts to services and jobs.

julie.scharper@baltsun.com

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