Baltimore Mayor Disagrees With New City Council Tax Bill

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Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
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Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Taking the taxman private. It’s in a bill introduced in the Baltimore City Council following revelations of errors in city tax collecting.

Alex DeMetrick reports privatizing tax collections is not something the mayor is backing.

Whether it’s getting rid of the trash or fighting multiple alarm fires, city services need tax dollars to function.

It’s a given that…

“The citizens are being billed properly and that the citizens are paying the city in a timely basis, as they should,” said City Comptroller Joan Pratt.

But not all property tax bills walked to the front door are error-free. Some with tax credits, living in historic structures, homestead properties and enterprise zones have received incorrect bills.

In the City Council, it’s led to calls to privatize tax collecting. It’s a move the mayor is trying to head off, saying the system has been improved.

“We should give the improvements that have been put in place a chance to work first,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Basically by using more computer power and less human handling by multiple agencies.

“What the paper said. The errors were causing properties to underpay their taxes,” said city auditor Bob McCarty.

In an investigation by WJZ’s media partner, the Baltimore Sun, $700,000 was underpaid by three enterprise zone properties and in recent years, $2 million went uncollected from tax credit accounts.

“We basically went through all 2,783 tax credit accounts, cleared them up and the bills that went out in July reflected that clean review,” said finance administrator Harry Black.

“We’re dedicated to making sure we get this right,” Rawlings-Blake said.

Tax credit accounts aren’t the only books drawing interest. There is also an ongoing call for an audit of the Department of Public Works over erroneous water bills.

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