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Arundel eyes bill to keep tax cap at 10%


The Anne Arundel County Council is considering a bill to cap increases in homeowners' property tax assessments at 10 percent.

Council Chairwoman Virginia P. Clagett, D-7th, introduced the measure last night at the request of County Executive Robert R. Neall, who was inaugurated Sunday. It is the first major bill of Neall's administration.

Because of the economic downtown, Neall decided not to dip below the 10 percent cap on increases that the Maryland General Assembly enacted for the state last winter.

"These are tough economic times, and it allows us to retain a certain degree of flexibility," said David Almy, a top Neall aide. Anne Arundel's economy is in "serious but stable condition."

The state legislature this year adopted a bill that limits annual assessment increases to 10 percent and allows local governments to adopt an even lower cap. Local jurisdictions must set a cap by Dec. 31.

Baltimore County has adopted a 4 percent cap on assessment increases, a figure that Baltimore also is considering. Harford County adopted a 6 percent cap in October. Carroll County has adopted a 10 percent cap.

The Howard County Council is contemplating separate bills that would limit assessment increases to 5 percent or 10 percent.

Many homeowners in the Baltimore region have complained about skyrocketing assessments driving up their tax bills. Angry tax rebels drafted proposals to cap increases in property tax revenues in Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties, but voters rejected the measures on Nov. 6.

During his campaign in Anne Arundel, Neall promised to hold to a 5 percent cap on yearly increases in property tax revenues. That could be accomplished even with a 10 percent assessment cap through, for example, changes in the tax rate if necessary, Neall aides said.

Robert J. Dvorak, a Neall transition team leader, said last night he expects the council to pass Neall's bill.

Clagett, who was re-elected council chairwoman last night, said she will wait until she hears testimony this month on the 10 percent cap before deciding how she'll vote.

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