From Patrick McGrady:
Dear Aberdeen Neighbor,
On November 8, 2011 you voted in the Aberdeen City election. Thank you. Not all of our fellow citizens participated in that opportunity to make Aberdeen a great place to live.
I was a candidate for Mayor of Aberdeen. With the number of votes at 766to 741, the incumbent mayor, Michael Bennett, was re-elected by a 25 vote margin. Not only were he and the City Council members re-elected, but they will now be serving a 4-year term, which the Bennett administration had created last year. This 4-year term replaced 2-year terms, which had been City law since 1892.
Clearly seen by the closeness of the vote, many Aberdeen voters are not satisfied with the way the Mayor and City Council members have been managing Aberdeen City government, nor with the consequences of their policies. I ran for Mayor because I truly believe that Aberdeen City government can be run in a manner that is just, fair, and forward-looking:
– Just, by being lawful rather than lawless
– Fair, by applying the law (which includes taxes) equally, rather than being partial to some while passing higher costs onto others
– Forward-looking, because transparency, fairness, and lawfulness create a business-friendly and people-friendly environment
I am grateful for the votes which were cast for me, and I believe that our campaign for good government served as a needed beginning. I am encouraged and my belief in the possibilities available to Aberdeen is confirmed. City government has an appropriate role in the path to our future, but it needs to be fixed by the Citizens of Aberdeen.
The question is: Are we ready to hold City government accountable to its lawful role and no longer allow it to conduct only the business of the politicians?
If you own a home or any real estate in Aberdeen, you recently received a property tax assessment. If you believe that the State assessed it too high, you should appeal the assessment by filing an appeal with the State Department of Assessments and Taxation. Here’s why this is important:
These assessments are used by the County and City governments to set rates for your property tax. The formula for creating the tax bill that you receive in July is as follows:
Assessed Value X Tax Rate = Tax Due
(Our total Tax Rate comes from adding Harford County’s Rate .896% + Aberdeen’s Rate .68%)
Therefore: Your Property’s Assessed Value x Tax Rate of 1.576% = Your Taxes Due
(All other Harford County property owners outside City limits pay a total rate of only 1.042%)
Each year the City Council and Mayor sets the Aberdeen City property tax rate based on how much of your money they wish to spend. They will keep getting away with this method of setting the rate, and taxes will continue to increase unless we get involved in the process.
There are two things that we can do to bring the process and our property taxes under control.
– Step 1 is to make sure the assessed value of our own property is fair and accurate. If you do not appeal the assessment before February 15, you will have to wait until the next year to appeal, and will have to pay higher taxes as a result. The Harford County office of the State Board of Assessments can be reached at (410) 836-4800.
– Step 2 is to make sure the Mayor and City Council don’t spend more money than City government should be spending, and certainly not more than the previous year.
With many opportunities for using Step 2, an important one is available now. On Monday, Jan. 9, 2012 the City Council and Mayor introduced legislation that will let politically-connected big businesses pay lower property tax rates than all other property owners in Aberdeen. If you realize the injustice and unfairness of this, please call the City Council and the Mayor at(410) 272-1600 and tell them what you think about this. Specifically, this is Ordinance 12-O-02, entitled LEED Office Building Tax Subclass.
Based on City Hall’s past communications, they will tell you that “you don’t understand” the criteria which makes this policy reasonable and necessary, and that it is important to give this break to big businesses so they will build in Aberdeen. I encourage you not to believe them when they tell you this! City government should not be picking winners and losers in Aberdeen. If the problem is that the taxes are so high in Aberdeen that businesses do not want to come here unless they are given a special deal, then the taxes should be cut for everyone, not just politically-connected developers, or cronies.
In order to instill honesty in Aberdeen City government, I am willing to start a new interested-citizens group for regular people in Aberdeen. It’s actually sometimes fun, and usually very interesting!
We’ve been taught to leave it to the professionals, and they’ve led us to believe that serious governing is boring, dry stuff, too complicated for us. But once you’ve learned what they’re supposed to be doing, and how the lawful process is misused, I think that you will no longer want to leave your lives to the politicians.
We believe that life in Aberdeen can be even greater than it already is. I hope you will be willing to come together with other people who care, to consider what we can do, and maybe even find new friends and invigorating interactions in the process.
Will you come to our first meeting on Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at6:30PM at the Aberdeen Library? We need to work together to fix the Aberdeen Government.
To learn more, please feel free to call me at 410.357.1234 and leave me a message. I commit to making every effort to call you back and speak with you.
P.S. Don’t forget to call the City Council at 410-272-1600 and tell them not to give tax breaks to big business, then come to our meeting on Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 7PM at the Aberdeen Library!