Delegate Richard C. Matthews, R-Carroll, said he is "shocked" at Gov. William Donald Schaefer's proposal to charge a $25 fee to homeowners who want to appeal their property tax bills.

"This action just adds insult to injury," said Matthews. "First, the homeowner is zonkedwith an out-of-sight tax bill. And then, when he tries to work within the system to appeal it, he is going to be charged a $25 fee."

If approved by the General Assembly, the fees would generate about $400,000 next year.

In 1989 statewide, 7,822 appeals reached theAppeals Board. In 1990, 13,500 appeals came before the board.

In Carroll County, the appeals rose from 1,107 in 1990 to 1,402 in 1991,an increase of 27 percent.

"It should be emphasized that the risein appeals is a direct reflection of the soaring assessments," Matthews said. "Over the past three years, the average annual assessment increase statewide was 11.7 percent. In Carroll County, that increasewas 11.8 percent."

The State Property Tax Assessment Appeals Board has been swamped by appeals to the extent that it has exhausted itsbudget, which was designed to handle 7,500 appeals.

Recently, theBoard of Public Works approved a $118,000 emergency grant to enable the tax appeal boards to continue operating through June 30.

"Granted, the Appeals Board has a serious problem," said Matthews. "But so, too, do the people who have been hit hard with mammoth tax bills they are hard pressed to pay in these times of quickly rising inflationand soaring layoffs.

"For the state to try to solve the Tax Appeal Board's budgetary problem on the backs of the people who are desperately seeking redress from sky-high tax bills shows an unbelievable lack of fairness and compassion and only serves to further convince the people that their welfare is not their government's prime concern."

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