Nathan Volke: Pittman's tax increases are just the beginning. Unless we stop them together.
By Nathan Volke
May 09, 2019 | 5:05 PM
Each year, $558 — that’s how much more in taxes the average family ($100,000 household income and $400,000 home) will pay under County Executive Steuart Pittman’s proposed budget.
That’s an 8.4% tax increase in one year. Income taxes are going up 12.4% and property taxes are going up 3.7%. The rain tax is going up 5% too. In total, the county spending will increase by $106 million — almost 7% over last year.
Experts say the average income will only rise by 3.75% annually. Typically, a fiscally responsible government should grow no more than the rate of people’s incomes to ensure the government does not get too big and require future tax increases.
On top of all this, the county executive has proposed borrowing another $250 million in new debt to build — well, they don’t know what they want to build yet.
But they need to raise taxes to borrow the money. And the best time to raise taxes is early because there is a hope that the voters might forget about it before the next election.
It is clear that elections have consequences. The last one brought a major shift to Anne Arundel County. These historic taxes will impact every person in this county — from the working family to the single parent to the retired senior on a fixed income.
Before the election, candidate Steuart Pittman told voters that he “believe[d] the money is going to be there and we can (fund these new initiatives) without raising taxes.”
Turns out the reality was harder than the rhetoric.
Some may say it takes courage to raise taxes. I disagree. Raising taxes means you told everyone who asked for money “yes.”
It takes a lot more courage to assess the requests and only spend what we can afford. That might not be popular. But I will stand by what I told you I would do, including my pledge of no new taxes.
For that reason, I have introduced an Income Tax Cap Charter Amendment. It would legally limit taxes to the current levels and stop these kinds of reckless tax-and-spend policies.
This budget signifies not the end, but the start, of future tax increases. If this budget passes, and the economy slows down in the next few years like all the experts predict, what happens?
More tax increases to balance the budget. Even if the economy does not slow down, the way the county executive plans to fund his budget makes future tax increases inevitable. Adding $46 million to the schools budget and paying for it by going over the voter-imposed property tax cap makes the tax cap basically irrelevant from here forward.
The new, higher property tax rate will become the new normal. And yet it still will not be enough.
State law prohibits any decrease in education funding, meaning this budget creates a new “floor” for education funding $46 million higher than last year. Next year, there is at least $11 million more required funding without even hiring a single additional teacher or implementing universal Pre-K like the state is considering. And all of these expenses must be funded every year going forward.
Pretty soon, Anne Arundel County taxes will be no different than Howard County or Montgomery County. Are you concerned about this too?
Please come share your thoughts with the County Council at the second public hearing at 7 p.m. Monday at North County High School, 10 East 1st Avenue, Glen Burnie.