State senators push for limits on more taxes
Hikes in park and planning, transit would be limited to 10 percent per year
State senators representing Prince George's County are seeking limits on three taxes that could save county property owners several hundred dollars each year.
Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters (D-Dist. 23) of Bowie is the chief sponsor of Senate Bill 683, which aims to expand the state's Homestead Tax Credit a limit on how much an owner-occupied property's taxable value can increase each year to include taxes Prince George's homeowners pay to park and planning, transit and storm water management.
"This is money that really belongs to the taxpayers," Peters said. "We want to save them money."
The Homestead increase cap only applies to Prince George's County property taxes, but property owners also pay taxes to the Maryland National-Capital Park and Planning Commission, Washington Suburban Transit Commission and the Chesapeake Bay Water Quality fund for storm water management.
Montgomery County already has the cap on property taxes and the three that Peters is seeking to limit in Prince George's.
If passed, tax increases for transit, storm water management and Park and Planning would not rise more than 10 percent each year. Each fee has gone up 14 percent each year since 2006.
The disparity for Prince George's has led to soaring tax bills in the past decade as home values sometimes doubled in value under the real estate boom. According to budget documents by sponsors, one homeowner in Bowie with a $449,000 house paid $5,549 last year on county, state, city and other taxes, including $1,374 in taxes to the park, transit and storm water agencies.
If the credit were applied, the same homeowner would have saved $492 on those three taxes, and seen their overall bill drop 9 percent to $5,056.
Other case studies included a homeowner outside of Hyattsville with a $386,000 home who would have saved $855 on the three taxes for their $3,406 bill for last year. The Bowie home included city taxes, while the Hyattsville home does not.
The limits would cost the agencies, budget analysts report. Since 2006, the Park and Planning office grew its tax collections by 14 percent each year to $256 million in 2009.
Park and Planning officials said they are supporting the bill.
"We do believe it is manageable," said Adrian R. Gardner, general counsel for the M-NCPPC.
Officials for the transit commission and storm water fund did not return calls for comment.
Support in the Senate is strong for the bill, which also comes in an election year. All eight county senators are signed on as sponsors.
Support is less prominent in the House of Delegates, which also has to pass the measure for it to become law. Only Del. Doyle Niemann (D-Dist. 47) of Mount Rainier is sponsoring a similar measure.
"I'd say that the prospects are good," Niemann said.
Peters said he has not discussed the bill yet with House Delegation Chairwoman Melony G. Griffith (D-Dist. 25) of Upper Marlboro. Griffith said she had not heard of the bill yet and declined to comment when reached March 11.