Pat McGrady, organizer of the Havre de Grace Tax Day rally, attended the recent Harford County Council budget hearings and reported her findings and impressions to The Dagger in the following series of letters:
On Tues., April 28, at CM. Wright, the county council accepted citizen input regarding County Exec. Craig’s proposed budget. About 25 citizens spoke to the council with passion and reason and the council members listened attentively to the speakers.
Four of the speakers addressed the budget amounts for the Harford Library system. The citizens that spoke asked that the council increase the spending for the library to insure services would not be reduced. The council does not have the authority to add funds to the budget.
The other citizen speakers spoke about the effect that the increase in property taxes will have on their families, their elderly neighbors and their businesses. Many of the speakers spoke of their homes values decreasing due to the lack of repairs to the roads and to the lack of services to their neighborhoods. Other speakers addressed the costs of running businesses within the county and the increased fees that have put many businesses at risk of closure. Many speakers addressed the need to observe constant yield rate dictated by the state and others requested that the budget be returned to the executive for re-writing. Most of the speakers demanded action to be taken to reduce costs, reduce waste and to reduce spending. Some speakers asked the council to cut programs and staff to reduce the budget.
The council will have a second citizen input hearing on Thursday, April 30, at 6:30pm at Joppa High School. Call, write or attend to make your wishes known to the council. The taxes that you, Joe Citizen, pay are going to increase. Do you want to have some input about the use of you money, or do you trust the county executive to choose where to spend your money? Do we need another recreation facility this year or can it wait? Do we need more schools or can the Board of Ed make better use of it’s budget or can it wait? Mr. Craig promised not to increase property taxes and he does so in this budget. If you support his choices, ok. If not, tell the council to return this budget to the executive with changes to reflect the lower economic status of many of the Harford county residents.
Two points of interest that many may not know:
Harford county property tax is second highest property tax in Maryland, only Baltimore City is higher.
Approximately 62% of all of your income is taken by taxes in one form or another. That only leaves you $38.00 from every $100.00 that you earn. Hard to believe? Figure out what you spend and where your money is going. You will be amazed at the costs in this county.
May God bless you.
Pat sent us another letter of disappointment and frustration following the Joppatowne budget hearing:
This evening’s budget hearing at Joppa High school was a disgrace for our democracy. Three speakers addressed the council. Two spoke about property tax rates and one gentleman encouraged the council to support the parks and rec programs in Jarrettsville. One lady requested funds for the library. That was the entire meeting.
The frustration I feel is compounded by the fact that over 250,000 people live in Harford County. Is it possible that so few care how their money is being spent? I had the pleasure to speak with Mary Ann Lisanti this evening and she stated that so few people are concerned about the property tax increase that she did not think any changes would be made. She was very empathetic, but not very encouraging. She said the number of letters, calls and messages for schools and parks and rec far outweigh the meager “tax complainers”. I guess this is going to be an uphill battle for tax equity in this cycle. Mr. Jim McMahan shared his ideas about the direction concerning taxes and he seemed a bit more amenable to the reduction of the rates. I hope that people that are residents do take the time to call or write to the county executive and the council to voice their concerns about the budget. Thank you for letting me vent!