Another $17 million we can't afford
In an April 14 article about Carroll County growth -- read that "overbuilding" -- builder Richard L. Hull contends the county received $16.49 million in income from the builders in 1995 for 1,434 homes built.
What Mr. Hull doesn't tell us is how will that approximately $17 million per year be absorbed? Government officials will tell anyone who wants to listen that it costs $1.22 in residential services for every $1 taken in taxes, which means taxes in this county will have to rise to outrageous levels so greedy builders can pocket yet more money without even a temporary curb on their indulgence.
To anyone thinking about moving to Carroll County, I suggest you look elsewhere. Think again if you think our schools are better, your taxes will be lower and it's a peaceful, country community.
It has become a quagmire of unrestricted building from a government full of "good old boys."
Dixon won as 'pro-life' politician
In the April 14 edition of The Sun for Carroll, staff writer Greg Tasker has an article, "County comissioners hail favorite son Dixon."
The article concerns a testimonial dinner honoring former Del. Richard Dixon for his work on behalf of Carroll County. Mr. Dixon's distinctions as a conservative African-American Democrat representing a mostly white county are also noted. What was missing is any depth of understanding of this unique man and his politics.
I don't pretend to know Mr. Dixon personally, only by reputation as a man of integrity.
One glaring omission from The Sun is the fact that Mr. Dixon is not only a black representing a mostly white, mostly conservative, mostly Republican county, he was the only Democrat elected in Carroll during the Republican juggernaut of '94 and he was the only pro-life Democrat.
There are two points to be made here:
Pro-life is not a losing position for a politician, despite whatever The Sun may contend. Nationally, in the '94 elections, pro-life was a solid winner. No incumbent pro-life senator, congressman or governor of either party lost. Additionally, nearly 30 hard-core pro-choice/abortion incumbents lost.
How is it that I, a layman, without the resources available to any Sun reporter am aware of these very relevant political facts, but The Sun remains blissfully ignorant? Or are you willfully obfuscating the facts?
Don't raise tax rates, do the assessments right
Part of the work I do as a real estate appraiser involves filing real estate tax assessment appeals to ensure that my clients do not pay more than their fair share of property taxes.
The majority of taxes received by the counties and Baltimore City come from real estate taxes. The state controls the process, with branch offices in each municipality. These branch offices have assessors, who estimate market values for every property in that jurisdiction. The objective is for every property to be assessed at a realistic sale price, or market value. The state estimates the value, and property owners are able to question the state's estimates through an appeals process. Generally, the process is fair and works well.
The state updates the market value for every property every three years. Obviously, this is a massive task and the result is some imprecise values which becomes the basis for property taxes. Many properties are assessed properly, but more are under- or over-assessed.
I have held the opinion that Carroll's assessments are below market value. My first experience with Carroll's taxes was with a property assessed for $141,000, which was reduced to $139,000 in the same year that the home sold for $195,000.
I decided to perform an unscientific test. I looked at 28 houses that sold in the last six months in various areas of Carroll County and in different price ranges and compared the sale prices to the assessments, according to the tax records. In theory, the assessment should equal or be very close to the sale price. The result was that the average home was assessed at 85 percent of the sale price.
In other words, Carroll County is cheating itself out of legitimate tax revenue. In my experience, this is not the case in nearby counties.
Carroll County does not need to increase the tax rate. Property values in this county have been increasing over recent years, but the assessments have not kept up. Increasing property tax rates will make Carroll appear to be a more expensive place, when in fact all we need to do is play by the rules.
Tax assessments should reflect reality. It would eliminate the need to increase tax rates in Carroll County.
Kathleen Frederick Palencar
Pub Date: 4/28/96