By Morita Bruce
Ready to see your taxes raised or your county services slashed again? What’s fair about that?
Background: In October, there was a great deal of controversy about canceling the school impact fee. This is the fee paid by people who purchase new homes, and it pays for a portion (roughly one-fifth) of the cost of building new schools to serve the new students arriving from the newly-built homes. That bill failed. Now Bill 09-37 proposes to cut the fee rather than eliminate it, which still hurts current Harford residents by raising our taxes and/or cutting existing services.
Here’s my view:
Bill 09-37 will slash the school impact fee by 27%. I oppose this unfair bill. It subsidizes new-home buyers by unfairly increasing taxes on current residents or by cutting services (such as recreational facilities, libraries, etc.)
This bill unfairly hurts current residents in the vain hope that it will encourage homebuilding. It claims to be a “stimulus”, as if the current impact fee is what deters consumers from buying new homes. It doesn’t. If the buyer has the income and wants the new house, he will buy it. A couple thousand dollars doesn’t change a buyer’s mind.
I ask the Council the following question: If you cut the impact fee, losing millions of dollars a year for Harford, how do you expect to make up for that loss? Are you planning to raise taxes? If not, which services are you planning to cut? You can’t have your cake and eat it too. The budget MUST still be balanced after you give away this money.
I don’t believe it’s fair to penalize all Harford residents to subsidize those who can afford new houses. The impact fee is both fair and necessary. Keep it where it is. Vote against Bill 09-37.
IMPORTANT: Public testimony on this bill is Tuesday, December 1st, at 6:00pm in the County Council chambers. Last chance, because 6 of the 7 Council members are sponsoring this bill and it will become law without public protest.