Reporting Pat Warren
BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Cutting the cost of living in the city. Property taxes take center stage in the Baltimore mayor’s race.
Political reporter Pat Warren has more on Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s new proposal and reaction from the other candidates.
It’s been the mayor’s standing position for months that the city can’t afford to give homeowners a tax break given the condition of the budget. But where there’s a political will, there’s a way.
What’s it mean to families like the Tighmans to live in Baltimore City?
“Everything that I need and my family needs, it’s all right here that we can get to very quickly,” said Ed Tilghman, Baltimore City homeowner.
Location, location, location. From the convenience of the business district to the heart of family history, neighborhoods and communities like Little Italy, Greektown, and Mount Vernon and the 800-block of Winans Way where the Tilghmans live.
“I’m half close to 70, I’m close to 95, I’m close to the airport,” Tilghman said.
Close to every way out of the city, which is the road thousands have taken given Baltimore has the highest property tax rate in the state.
“This is about providing real relief to city homeowners,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake.
Rawlings-Blake proposes a property tax reduction of 20 cents by 2020, limited to owner-occupied homes in the form of tax credits created with 90 percent of the city’s slots proceeds. Candidate Jody Landers thinks the plan is faulty.
“It’s not enough,” Landers said. “We really need to give tax relief across the board; 50 percent of all the residential housing in Baltimore City is rental housing, so virtually 50 percent of all residential housing will be excluded from any benefit from this proposal.”
Candidate Otis Rolley’s reaction is that incremental tax cuts haven’t worked.
Frank Conaway calls it “voodoo economics.” He says jobs will create the tax revenue needed to reduce property taxes.
Rawlings-Blake says it’s not a problem that can be solved in just a few years.
“This plan recognizes that reducing the property tax rate requires a long-term solution and careful planning and budgeting,” the mayor said.
Mayoral candidate and State Senator Catherine Pugh also has a plan for reducing property taxes.
The Rawlings-Blake tax credit program would need approval from the Maryland General Assembly.