Whiteley: “We are Literally Being Assessed and Taxed Out of Our Homes, Farms, and Businesses”

The following letter and testimony are from H. LeRoy Whiteley, Jr., president of Marylanders for Fair Property Taxation, and were sent to the members of Harford County’s delegation to the Maryland General Assembly and the Harford County Council. A copy was provided to The Dagger for publication:

On March 11, 2011, we attended the Budget and Taxation committee hearing for SB 498 Task Force Bill for Review of Property Tax Assessment Procedures and the Assessment Appeals Process introduced by Senator Barry Glassman. We wish we could have mustered one-tenth the number of either the proponents or opponents of the gay rights’ bill heard that day. Unfortunately, only five of our supporters attended. Only a like amount of taxpayers submitted written testimony. The poor showing probably will not bode well for our chance of success in seeing a bill passed. The taxpayers are just too apathetic??

Tony Passoro of the Bel Air Tea Party Patriots led off our testimony following introductory remarks by Senator Glassman. After his cheery “I’m Back?!!” opening line, Tony in his admirable style laid out facts about the unfair assessments and cumbersome appeals process. He suggested that if the committee would prefer not seeing him again next year, passage of the bill was the answer to accomplishing that. We presented our attached testimony followed by Bernadette Zgorski’s heart rendering effect of high assessments\taxes on her life after she and her husband have suffered two years of unemployment. Retired schoolteacher, Betty Lebrun, eloquently summarized the points made by the previous speakers imploring the committee to pass the bill onto the floor for further action. Bob Geisler, who travelled from Dorchester County, was unable to verbally present his previously submitted written testimony due to a sign in mix-up. More speakers and warm bodies in the seats would have helped our cause. If you are interested in seeing fair and equitable property assessments and taxation, you must help support our efforts.

IT STILL ISN’T TOO LATE TO MAKE YOUR VOICES HEARD? Contact the members of the Budget and Taxation Committee —- e-mail addresses are all in this format followed by @senate.state.md.us


Fill their mail boxes and let them know we want this bill passed from committee to the floor where it can be acted upon by ALL the legislators we elect— NOT JUST A SELECT FEW COMMITTEE MEMBERS!!!! ALSO, contact your respective senators and tell them to sign on to cosponsor and support this legislation.

Remember, Nothing Happens Unless We Make It Happen!!!!!

Roy Whiteley

Please send to your friends!!!!

Support Testimony SB 498 Property Review Task Force March 11, 2011

I am Roy Whiteley, representing Marylanders for Fair Property Taxation in support of Senate Bill 498. This bill is about the creation of a task force to review the property tax assessment system and its cumbersome three-step appeals process, which most taxpayers do not understand and thus avoid.

I’m 84. I served my country during World War 2 and Korea so that folks like you could be elected and put our democracy to work for all us. Creating a task force to study an archaic system that resulted in excess of 20,000 second level taxpayer appeals this year alone. The passage of this bill is long overdue. We respectfully ask that instead of exercising your ability to play both judge and jury you instead look at this and all bills saying in general, does it have merit, can it benefit the taxpayer and the State, is it constitutionally correct, is it legal? If it passes this muster, then let it go to the floor with a favorable recommendation to be voted on by ALL of those we have elected.

For seven years, we have been coming before you to argue these conditions of a property evaluation system that is totally unfair, inequitable, highly subjective, and non-uniform. We don’t know if the matter has ever been voted on. It is time to stand up for the taxpayers and let some daylight in on the system.

We have offered one methodology for consideration to create a fair assessment system to all willing to listen. It would be an automated system based on actual sales made at fair market value and kept current via a computerized sales index. Today, the State derives most of its assessment data using construction cost data. Yet every appeal by law must be argued based on sales data, so why not base the whole system on actual market sales data? Doing so will eliminate questioning the assessed value, for who can argue against the sale price paid under fair market conditions? Initial evaluations project a savings to the State of about $20 million per year while actually increasing the overall assessment base. Our County Treasurer estimates about $80 million would be added to our tax base. Such added assessable base statewide would allow tax rate reductions, and still net the state and counties ample revenue to meet constant yields and support the needs of our society. We are sure other beneficial changes could be found. Put this task force in place with informed citizens who are experiencing the problems first hand and let us show you solutions. All we ask for is that an inexpensive study by volunteers selected by the delegations from the State’s 24 jurisdictions be allowed to look at this property assessment and appeals system to see if there might not be a better way to achieve fair and equal assessment values. There is nothing to fear. It is a win-win situation – with nothing to lose other than a little time to look at an overwhelming system that is abhorred by taxpayers.

We are literally being assessed and taxed out of our homes, farms, and businesses. Changes must be made to make assessments and associated taxes fair and equitable while reflecting current market conditions.

In today’s economy, property assessments and taxes have become a paramount concern and problem. Give us the chance to study them to see if a fair methodology can be derived. Pass Senate Bill 498. Thank you.

Roy Whiteley, Founder


  1. says

    Good job Roy and Tony. My wish is that your bill does get to the floor and heard by all. It is ashame that these elected officials can hold a bill hostage and personally decide not to pass out of the committee. And the people elect these officials year after year. What a shame and disgrace.

  2. fogdog says

    When I moved to Harford county, I wanted a nice place to live. I do not want to live in a third world county or state.

    I find those of you who do not want government to provide services for those of use who are used to expecting them should move to West Virginia, Mississippi or get a good job and work like I do.

    The reason no one listens to you is you are seen as worthless. Those of us who are productive are making a good living in Maryland. There are many jobs in Harford County that pay over 100K.

    • WheresPatton says

      You Sir, are deplorable.

      An individual who has worked all his/her life, paid taxes, paid OFF their mortgage, doesn’t have one penny in debt owed to anyone, is completely self sufficient in their day to day activities, and has enough money to pay for their own medical care in retirement and isn’t a drain on society, faces potential confiscation of something they own outright. And why is that? Simply because, as Helicopter Ben Bernanke prints and prints and prints away, food prices rise (and eventually home heating oil, and house prices too), thus through various macro-economic pressures, that individual can’t even afford to pay their property tax.

      An asset THEY bought, paid for and own can be confiscated for failure to pay an inflated property tax rate, simply because of the failures of the government. Failure of the US Congress to do its Constitutional duty to control the money supply. A duty of the politicians to the people not to out spend tax receipts, driving us into debt servitude, and mismanaging the political system and turning it into a corrupt Ponzi scheme where campaign money buys political favors and tax code gaming against competitors and individuals.

      Maybe it’s time that the individuals of this county do without “necessary services” and fend for ourselves. Perhaps personal responsibility would create a better society, and those on the government dole could go out and get one of those 100k+ jobs that you were so ignorant and arrogant to encourage people to do, so as to be able to “absorb” an unfair and unjust tax, and its far further unjust enforcement.

      Pitiful that you are so ignorant.

      • frankly speaking says

        And while this person paid of his mortgage, he also got a mortgage tax credit and credit of their federal income taxes for property taxes paid to the county. This person also got to live in a great county where his kids went to school and played in our fields and he raised his family. What is your point? Should no one pay taxes? Additionally, if everyone makes 100k why can’t they pay their contribution to society? In additon, all services provided by the county are basic and needed. Of course, now that you paid off your house and your kids don’t have to go to school, these services are no longer needed!!!. You are a poor excuse for a responsible tax payer. I think if you don’t like it here you can move someplace else…the free state is not free.

        • decoydude says

          F SPEAKING- I agree with your ideas overall. Everyone seems to want their cake and eat it too. Services cost and tax dollars pay the bill. Too many people in this county want the services that they are interested in paid for, but they don’t want to pay for services for other residents. Government spending needs to be cut, but with a scalpel not a chainsaw. I do favor smaller and more efficient goverment. I do not think that property taxes in this county are extremely high relative to other places I have been. However, I do find issue with the piggyback tax.

          • frankly speaking says

            I am for lower taxes and more efficient govt. I pay taxes and expect the county to provide quality basic services such as police, prison, jail, emergency, water & sewer, planing, recreation, environmental & landfill maintenance and education. I don’t see where the county is providing a function that is not basic or normal of local function. I do also find the piggyback tax harfull to the middle class, as the poor are not affected by it and the richer get income in other ways other than wages but it at least insures that he county gets its share of the our residents paying to their county as oppossed to the state whom would probably send more of that revenue to their constituent jurisdictions such as PG county, Montgomery and Baltimore City.

          • Victor says

            @Frankly Speaking,

            Right on!

            While I don’t pay any property taxes directly since I rent, I kinda like that the fat cat county homeowners with their big houses, fancy cars and country club lifestyles pay the freight. And why shouldn’t they pay?

            We should tax these jerks some more so we can give raises to county employees and offer more services to poor and regular folks.

            Give us more free cheese! I’ll bring the burgers and buns.


    • amazed... says

      @Fogdog, So the young couple struggling to make ends meet and the retired folks on a fixed income just need to bounce over to one of those 100K+ a year jobs, right? Apparently you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting one… By the way, how many of those 100K jobs AREN’T with the government(helping create the situation we’re faced with)?

      • frankly speaking says

        victor, you are a complete loser. Everyone should pay taxes…free cheese…are you joking or just plainly stupid!!!

        • Victor says

          @Frankly Speaking, I do file a tax return. I get a refund because of my low income and a subsidy for housing.

          If I made fat cat money and had a mini mansion I’d pay lots of taxes.


  3. anon says

    Regardless of how much (or how little) money you feel the government should be taking in, if we have a system taxing property value then it should be fair and consistent. Given how quickly property values can move in different areas, a more frequent reassessment is absolutely valid.

    You still need tax assessors on the street to assess building and neighborhood improvements so I doubt the thinking that the state could save $8M in salaries, but I do support the annual reassessment as the most fair method of taxing property.

  4. Tommy M says

    The taxes that property owners ought to be enough to provide services that are required by the constitution. The govt. ought not be funding planned parenthood, abortion clinics,selected home mortgage receivers, and programs like NPR, EPA, or even the Fed. Education Dept. They are a misuse of funds.

    • Cdev says

      You are complaining about federal spending and blaming it for your local property tax. Seems to me your issue is with the federal govt who has nothing to do with your property tax.

    • decoydude says

      TOMMY M – sounds a bit too much like party line politics and propaganda to take you seriously. Quit being a pawn to career politicians and their corporate owners. Take an ax to both sides of the aisle and their pet programs, and I will listen.

    • T.P. Knucklehead says


      You’re right, we don’t own this country. We just pay for it. In the court I live, 13 homes. One on disability that runs his own under the table side business. One on unemployement and working side jobs. One home foreclosed with the former homeowners living there without paying and getting subsidized electric. One on disability, out cutting trees down in his back yard yesterday. Another on unemployment working side jobs. One buying anything she wants on credit, and using it until it gets reposessed. Not one of these people are unable to work, yet all are stealing from me, the taxpayer. At the grocery store last night, two in front of me in line. Both paid for their first pile with an independence card, then their second pile of junk food with cash.
      You call people like me knuckleheads and worthless, yet I work 60 hours a week, pay all of my bills, maintain my house and raise my children the right way. So I say who is the real knucklehead, those of us who do the right thing who have had enough, or you bleeding heart libs who are creating a whole segment of our population dependant on the rest of us.

  5. one more former student says

    while I don’t agree 100% with fogdog, there are some good points to the post. I have lived in Harford county all my life, I work a decent job and have the usual payments. I don’t mind paying fair taxes ; but when the politically backed developers get lower taxes or extra funding to add to traffic and add more costs to schools and roads, while they pocket millions; I have issues. It’s time that the citizens of the county,all parties, put forth a united front that says we will not have more developments, we will not have larger classes in schools, and we will have more services for teh aging population. If teh elected officials have no stomach for it, recall them and put every bad bill they pass up for referendum. Then when we stabilize the county we can cut costs and lower property taxes.

    • Fog Dog says

      I agree with one more former student. The developers get all kinds of tax breaks. An example is the big one the county exec. just gave Clark Turner – millions.

      Clark Turner ripped off the people who purchased condos at Water’s Edge. The construction was so poor that the buildings all leak water. All the stone work and sliding have to removed and the mold and rotten wood replaced. This is because he took short-cuts that could not be seen.

      The condo owners now have to pay approx. 30 t0 40K, depending upon the size of their condo, to repair the construction defects. They are now taking him to court asking for 3.5 million to pay for his poor construction.

      Some people will lose their condos at Water’s Edge because they cannot pay the condo fees that are between 800 and 1000 dollars a month. This money is needed to repair water damage and other construction defects.