By Patrick McGrady
The Harford County Council held a meeting [Tuesday] night at the Council Chambers. Approximately 50 budget protesters walked around the building and passing cars honked their support from 6:00PM all throughout the meeting.
At that time, people flocked into the chambers until full occupancy was reached. People that couldn’t fit inside the building were asked to stand outside, which they did. Attendees voiced displeasure at the beginning of the meeting when those without seats were told to leave the room. Attendees also voiced displeasure when told the curtains could not be opened. Council President told attendees that if they did not comply then he would have to clear the chambers.
The Council read 193 amendments to the FY2010 budget. Towards the end of the meeting, attendees vocalized their frustration with waiting until the end, and it took several minutes to calm everyone down enough to continue.
After the amendments were read, several citizens gave comments about the budget and taxes in Harford County. Many people stayed all the way to the end of the meeting — the meeting that went until after midnight.
However, the Council didn’t vote on the budget because they ran out of time. The Council could not vote on the budget until after all amendments had been read in, including those from the Council. County Executive will have to review and amend some of the amendments to get a final document. Final version should be available for a vote at Thursday’s meeting. We will all be waiting and watching for their decision on Thursday at a Emergency Meeting of the Council. 7:00 PM at the Council Chambers in Bel Air.
In other news, the County Council has decided to lower the Property Tax Assessment from 9% to 5%. The County Exec has opposed cuts until just recently.
This means that your home’s property taxes will not increase more than 5%. This is a huge development, but Bob Thomas, the County Spokesman is very quick to say that it had absolutely nothing with the Tax TEA Parties and rallies that have been held Havre de Grace, and Bel Air, most recently at their last Council meeting. When asked if the Rallies and TEA Parties affected the decision, Thomas said:
“Not in the least,” Thomas said. “We believe that some individuals associated with the TEA Party group are grossly misinformed about spending, the issue of taxes and assessments.” “Their property tax bill has gone up because of state assessments,” he continued. “It’s not the result of action by Harford County government and even though the county may reduce the property tax cap, it does not preclude the state from increasing assessments that would create a higher tax bill for them. Some have totally misunderstood the issue entirely and it is not as simple as they may perceive it to be.” –The Aegis, May 27, 2009.
While the State controls the assessments of real property, the County sets both the tax rate and the cap on increases. In Harford County, our tax rate is the third highest in the state behind Baltimore County and Baltimore City, and even bigger Counties like Howard have lower assessment caps. It looks like the rallies are getting under the thick skin of government. And that is a good thing. To quote Thomas Jefferson, “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.”
Photo courtesy www.harfordpropertytaxrevolt.com