If the General Assembly cuts state income taxes next year, will Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III want authority to raise the ceiling on the local piggyback tax to replace lost revenue?
That's what Sen. John A. Cade, an Anne Arundel County Republican, wanted to know when Mr. Ruppersberger appeared this week at a legislative hearing in Annapolis.
The county executive's answer didn't included the dreaded "T" word. Instead of a direct answer, he said, "We certainly need the tools at the local level," if state officials don't replace revenues lost in a tax cut.
And although Mr. Ruppersberger later would not be any more specific, he left little doubt about his intent.
"I don't want to create another issue," he said. "If it becomes an issue later, I'll say it."
Baltimore County's piggyback income tax rate stands at 55 percent of each taxpayer's state income tax bill. The statewide ceiling for local piggyback rates is 60 percent of state taxes.
Baltimore County's rate was increased from 50 percent to 55 percent in 1992, a move that raised $24 million to replace revenues lost during the recession.
Another increase to the 60 percent ceiling would produce about $26.6 million more, county budget officials said.