New City Budget Uses Sleight of Hand to Lower Property Taxes

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In an attempt to attract new residents to Baltimore city, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has been looking to reduce property taxes. And with the 2014 budget, she’s done it. According to the Sun, the owner of a $200,000 home would see a $140 decrease in his property taxes. The only thing is, new stormwater and taxi fees more than compensate for the property tax relief, ensuring that for many city residents the cost of living in Baltimore will rise. The most Councilman Robert W. Curran can hope is that it will “be a wash for residents.

Rawlings-Blake calls the fee-in-lieu-of-tax switcheroo a “responsible way” to lower property taxes. But if we’re talking about potential homeowners who are diligent enough to compare property tax rates, wouldn’t they also be checking cost of living? I mean, is it reasonable to suppose anyone will be fooled?

There’s more sleight of hand elsewhere in the budget. City workers are getting a 2 percent raise, but receiving cuts to their health and pension benefits.

Oh well. Moving the numbers around makes us feel like we’re doing something, I guess.



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