Delegate, I mean fmr. Councilman Tom Dernoga today continued his not so hidden campaign for the House of Delegates by alarming the hounds to a potential bill that would overturn TRIM as we know it.
TRIM is a county charter amendment that prevents the County Council from raising taxes above a specific limit a year without voter approval. The bill SB740 if passed would give county governments to power to do just that if the funds went to education.
The bill is introduced by Sen. Madaleno of Montgomery County and has no other co-sponsors.
SB 740 is the latest effort to circumvent the long-standing expressed will of voters by undermining their County Charters. The purpose is to allow Counties to raise more funds for public education in excess of Charter limits. Copy attached, key provisions below.
It is difficult to say whether this effort is serious, but if no one pays attention, it could become serious. SB 740 directly affects Anne Arundel, Montgomery, Prince George’s, Talbot and Wicomico Counties, which have various property tax caps. However, SB 740 also has indirect import for Baltimore, Dorchester, Howard and Harford Counties because it will undermine the ability of voters to impose effective tax caps in the future should they so choose.
It contains a copy of the bill and its fiscal note and contact information for State and County officials. Supporting more funding for education is a legitimate purpose. However, attaining that purpose by circumventing the taxpayers through the undermining of their County Charters is anti-democratic.
You should call or write your State and County officials to let them know that this is not an appropriate way to address the issue of education funding.
The bill states the following as its purpose:
FOR the purpose of authorizing a county council in a charter county, for a certain purpose under certain circumstances, to set a property tax rate that is higher than the rate authorized under the county’s charter or to collect more property tax revenues than are authorized under the county’s charter, notwithstanding any provision of a county charter that places certain limits on that county’s property tax rate or revenues; requiring a county to appropriate to the local board of education certain revenues and prohibiting a county from reducing certain funding to the local board of education under certain circumstances; providing for the application of this Act; and generally relating to county property tax rates and revenues and education funding.
The operative language that would be added to State law is as follows:
(D) (1) NOTWITHSTANDING ANY PROVISION OF A COUNTY CHARTER THAT PLACES A LIMIT ON THAT COUNTY’S PROPERTY TAX RATE OR REVENUES AND SUBJECT TO PARAGRAPH (2) OF THIS SUBSECTION, A COUNTY COUNCIL MAY SET A PROPERTY TAX RATE THAT IS HIGHER THAN THE RATE AUTHORIZED UNDER THE COUNTY’S CHARTER OR COLLECT MORE PROPERTY TAX REVENUES THAN THE REVENUES AUTHORIZED UNDER THE COUNTY’S CHARTER FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF FUNDING THE APPROVED BUDGET OF THE COUNTY BOARD.
(2) IF THE COUNTY COUNCIL SETS A COUNTY PROPERTY TAX RATE THAT IS GREATER THAN THE RATE AUTHORIZED UNDER THE COUNTY’S CHARTER OR COLLECTS MORE PROPERTY TAX REVENUES THAN THE REVENUES AUTHORIZED UNDER THE COUNTY’S CHARTER, THE COUNTY:
(I) MAY NOT REDUCE FUNDING PROVIDED TO THE COUNTY BOARD FROM ANY OTHER LOCAL REVENUE SOURCE BELOW THE FUNDING LEVEL IN THE CURRENT COUNTY BUDGET; AND
(II) SHALL APPROPRIATE TO THE COUNTY BOARD ALL PROPERTY TAX REVENUES EXCEEDING THE AMOUNT THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN AVAILABLE IF THE COUNTY CHARTER LIMITATION HAD APPLIED.
SECTION 2. AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That this Act shall take effect June 1, 2012, and shall be applicable to all taxable years beginning after June 30, 2012.