BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The new budget for Baltimore County is drawing criticism following several proposed tax hikes.
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. has made it clear he feels he inherited a bad fiscal situation in the county, and some see this as a necessary evil.
He discussed the hurdles of balancing a broken budget on Baltimore County’s new podcast Tuesday morning.
“So, we’ve closed an $81 million deficit this year with our budget. A deficit that was projected to grow to hundreds of millions in the years ahead,” Olszewski said.
The day before, the executive laid out his plan for the council, introducing raising the income tax from 2.83 percent to 3.2 percent, and adding taxes for cellphones, cable, hotels and Airbnb, plus on new development.
“It addresses the deficit. It puts us on firm footing both for this fiscal year but it also provides us a path forward,” Olszewski said.
Economist Anirban Basu said Baltimore County has had this coming, but higher taxes could push people out.
“Baltimore County, some might say, is heading down that same road. A road that did not work for Baltimore City. And that’s going to cause some fear around here. And that’ll be part of the pushback that the county executive and others are in favor of tax increases will see,” Basu said.
And the pushback has already started.
“I’m not a big fan of it. He just got into office. I don’t think this is the right thing for him to do starting out,” said Rosemarie Alcarese, Baltimore County resident.
“With the $81 million dollars of budget, it seemed like it was a necessity. I just hope that the builders and developers also pay their fare share,” said Zachary Cardin, Baltimore County resident.
But, what’s proposed hasn’t passed.
“I suspect this is going to change a lot,” Basu said. “He wants to understand what people object to most, including elected officials. But part of this, every county, every local jurisdiction has to balance its budget each and every year. That’s not an option,”
The property tax rate was not touched in this budget. Hearings on the budget will start April 30.
A final vote is not expected until May.