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Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

Baltimore’s property tax measure won’t be on the ballot. Here’s why city officials are relieved.

By meerna Jul11,2024
Baltimore’s property tax measure won’t be on the ballot. Here’s why city officials are relieved.

BALTIMORE — A bill to cut Baltimore’s property taxes by nearly half will not appear on the November ballot.

Some officials breathed a sigh of relief as the mayor called the decision a measure that could bankrupt the city.

City Election Board Director Armstead Jones wrote in a letter that trying to lower Baltimore’s property tax rate through a referendum initiative violates state law.

Only elected officials can set the property tax rate, not city voters.

ReNew Baltimore, the group behind the initiative, collected more than 23,000 signatures.

In a statement, ReNew Baltimore says it will fight the ruling in court and is “confident that the tens of thousands of Baltimore citizens who support a fair and competitive tax rate will ultimately prevail.”

Opponents of the initiative held a rally at a Southwest Baltimore fire station last month, arguing it would have disastrous consequences for city services.

“We would have to lay off about 400 firefighters and more than 120 paramedics,” said Chris Myer, a research analyst at the Maryland Center on Economic Policy. “We would have to close all Safe Streets Violence Prevention facilities. There would be no more street or alley cleaning. We would have to reduce the number of school nurses and neighborhood health visits.”

Baltimore City has the highest tax rate in the state, at over 2.2%.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott on Wednesday called the proposal “irresponsible,” saying that if the city received a guaranteed share of state sales taxes generated in Baltimore, property taxes could be significantly reduced.

“I will continue to fight for responsible, accountable property tax reduction in Baltimore, not what these people want to do,” Scott said.

By meerna

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