Proposal to cut property tax rate faces opposition on Howard council


Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker's proposed 4-cent reduction in the county's property tax rate is in political trouble.

Two of five County Council members already have declared their opposition to the tax cut, announced last week as part of Mr. Ecker's plan to charge owners of single-family homes and townhouses a new fee of $125 a year for picking up their trash.

A third council member says he's leaning toward opposing the tax cut when the tax cut and trash fee proposals come separately before the council this spring. Even the tax cut's sole supporter, Council Chairman Darrel Drown, says he might change his mind.

The two opponents -- Councilman Charles C. Feaga, a West Friendship Republican, and Councilwoman Mary C. Lorsung, a west Columbia Democrat -- say the county can't afford to cut property taxes even with the new trash fee. Mr. Ecker says that the proposed 4-cent tax cut -- when combined with the proposed $125 per house trash fee -- would yield a net gain in revenue for the county, adding $4 million to $5 million to Howard's coffers.

But the net impact for county businesses would be an estimated $800,000 in tax savings, because most already pay private companies to pick up their trash and would not be subject to the new trash fee.

The proposed household trash fee also would fall less heavily on homeowners with higher value properties, because they would benefit more from the proposed tax reduction.

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