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In Maryland, we get the homeowner coming and going.
In Maryland, we get the homeowner coming and going.

The editorial cartoon accompanying this article just about sums it up.

Higher property value assessments mean higher property taxes. It’s as simple as that.

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For the longest time, Harford County politicians used to brag they hadn’t raised taxes during their time in charge. At the same time, everyone’s tax bill kept increasing.

Governments increase taxes by following this basic formula: The tax rate doesn’t’ change. The assessed values of properties increase. We all pay more.

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That’s how state and local governments take more money from us and yet can claim they “didn’t raise taxes.”

Each year about this time, a third of us in Harford County get assessment notices. For the fifth straight year, surprise, surprise, those assessments increased.

Much of the Route 40 corridor and surrounding areas were reassessed and those property values increased by an average of 4.5 percent.

Harford County, for assessment purposes, is divided into thirds and the latest assessments were done in Area 3, as tax people call it. Area 3 is loosely identified as land along Interstate 95 and Route 40 as well as some properties north of Havre de Grace.

“This is our most commercial and industrial area,” Nancy Schmidbauer, the State Department of Assessments and Taxation, said. She said that 38, 655 of Harford County’s 98, 000 properties are in Area 3.

The value of residential properties increased by 3.6 percent in that area and commercial property values increased by 6.5 percent since the last assessments of that area were released in 2015.

Those increases follow the pattern that has held true across Harford County in recent years. Property values have been increasing not only according to state tax assessors, but also according to sales.

There were a thousand properties sold in Area 3 in 2017, according to Schmidbauer. Each of those sales, presumably at higher prices, factored into the new assessed values of properties.

That wasn’t the case as recently as 2008 and 2009 well the real estate market in Harford County collapsed as it did elsewhere.

During those dark economic days, we all hoped for a rebound in the housing market so it’s good news for all of us that the Harford County real estate market is doing well, which translates into all of our properties being worth more money.

It’s not, however, good news that we’re all paying more property taxes every year, even though none of our politicians raised our taxes.

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