Organizers of Tuesday’s tax revolt in Bel Air were thrilled with the turnout and are hoping to build momentum in anticipation of the Harford County Council’s vote on the budget and constant yield tax rate next Tuesday.
While the Harford Property Tax Revolt group claims there were “approximately 200 people, and they were all as mad as hell” at the event, Bel Air police estimated a more conservative 60 to 80 people were in attendance, and said there were certainly fewer than 100 protestors.
The protest, held on private property in the parking lot of a former gas station across from the county council chambers in Bel Air, looked well attended. Protesters carried signs while speakers stood on an empty hay wagon at the back of the lot, and the PA system carried their words across to the edge of the council building.
In the days leading up to the tax rally, the Route 40 Republican Club sent out a robo-call to inform and build support for the protest.
Click below to hear the audio of the message:[audio:http://www.daggerpress.com/wp-content/uploads/wright5-17-09_real_estate_tax_protest_rally.mp3]
The Harford Property Tax Revolt group was peeved about a late email distributed by Bel Air Youth Football, a Bel Air Parks & Recreation-sponsored program, which asked members to attend the council meeting in a show of support for the budget and maintaining Parks and Rec funding.
The tax revolt group found it inappropriate to put the football program in the middle of an expression of free speech by Harford county individuals.
Here is the original email distributed by BelAirFootball.org:
On Tuesday night, May 19th, the County Council will have the final vote on the Executive Budget presented by Mr. Craig and his administration.
It is anticipated that a grassroots organization calling themselves the “Harford Property Tax Revolt” may be attempting to block or reduce this key legislation. I encourage each of you to attend the Council meeting to show your support for the Parks and Rec Department. Especially in times of economic uncertainty, the programs funded by P&R may be in severe jeopardy if cuts are made.
We need to show strength as a rec council thereby demonstrating our support to complete ongoing projects and to accommodate the increasing number of participants we serve. Please join us at 7PM at the Council Chambers. Wear your Bel Air Rec apparel proudly!!
Here is a recap of yesterday’s tax revolt written by Patrick McGrady:
Our rally went off today without a hitch. There were at least a couple hundred angry citizens in attendance.
I got the feeling that all of these people are angry with not only the local government, but the state and Federal government as well. If this movement catches any traction, I pity Annapolis and Washington.
There were some solid speeches by several people, and lots of cars on Rt. demonstrated their support by honking.
The County Council is voting on this budget a week from Today, on May 26, at 7:00 in the Council building.
That means we only have 7 days to make the Council aware of how we feel. Call early, call often, and email when you have lost your voice. Click this link to see the Council’s contact information.
Tell your friends, coworkers, and anybody else that will listen: If you don’t tell the Council how you feel, your taxes will increase next year.
Email it to everybody in your contacts list! Make them aware. If you would like an example of an email to send, let me know, at HarfordTaxRevolt@gmail.com.
I personally counted 150, then I got sidetracked by a question from an onlooker. When we started, there weren’t two hundred, but I am confident that at least 200 were there by 6:00PM.
It was a good time. I hope people tell their friends about this. If we don’t tell the Council how we feel, our taxes may increase by another 9% this year. I’m not OK with that.
Thanks for the post. We are on the front page of the Aegis, too!
How is it innapropriate for a group who benefits from the money in the budget to not show support for that money. Are they too allowed to excercise their first ammendment rights or are only people against taxes allowed to speak up?
Patrick McGrady says
I would love to have a debate with people who have opposing opinions about taxes, and the budget. The issue here, was not the officer’s presence.
It is rumored that their presence was requested by the County Officials- In uniform. That is where it becomes murky to me. If they were in plainclothes, then I wouldn’t see any problems with it. But when they show up in uniform, with handcuffs and weapons on their belt, it becomes a roadblock to free speech.
However, the Sheriff’s Deputies that were present at the Rally were great! They were pleasant, kind, and told us that they believed in our cause. I *was* concerned, but they exceeded my expectations ten-fold.
Patrick- Minor correction.Those are Bel Air Police, not Sheriff’s Deputies, in your rally pictures. But, I’m sure they were pleasant and kind as well. They always are…
Yes, those in the photos are, but the gentlemen that I spoke to were Sheriff’s deputies.
Patrick I was refering to the park and rec call the article took issue with.
Oh, I see.
I think the article is a little biased in that respect. I, for one, am not peeved. I welcomed the dissent. As a representative of the Harford Property Tax Revolt group, I will say that every individual has the right to his or her vocal opinion. If that calls for increased property taxes, which crowd out private donations to recreational programs, then so be it.
I did hear that the gentlemen that distributed that email was challenged by a local contributor to the program, though.
Tell me how it is that Anne Arundel County can CUT their property taxes this year and Harford is increasing? On top of County Employees getting a 12% raise just a year ago when state employees’ salaries were frozen. There is NO excuse for increasing taxes, none.