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Local Legislative News - Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary's Counties

 

The Calvert County Housing for All task forces held a development and financial panel discussion today with state and local housing experts to help define benchmarks to fill the current housing supply deficit. SMAR Vice President of Government Affairs, Theresa Kuhns, participated on behalf of the Realtor® community and Southern Maryland property owners.

Calvert

The two focus spotlights were on workforce housing and income restrictive housing. Impediments to building affordable housing in Calvert County specifically were identified as a higher than average median income; locally held "TDRS"; excise and other building fees and the need to focus on priority funding areas. A good example provided was the current Beechtree apartments in Prince Frederick, which cost the builder over $800,000 to purchase the "TDR" to build 250 units- not land price, "TDR" only. Another example compared cost of jurisdiction building: it costs $4,000 to build in Baltimore to include impact, water and sewer fees. In Calvert, the same fees are well over $20,000, which leads to excluding future home ownership. 

SMAR will remain active in this ongoing conversation and expects a presentation to the Calvert County Board of Commissioners in mid December. Please contact Theresa Kuhns with any questions. 

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Board mulls property tax decreases for next fiscal years…

Fall is the time of year Calvert County’s government officials are analyzing data to determine what the next fiscal year’s budget will look like. The commissioners routinely gather input from staff — department and division heads — as part of the preliminary process. For FY 2020, the current fiscal year operating budget totals $312 million. That’s nearly $15.4 million more than the previous fiscal year. County employees got a salary step increase and a cost of living adjustment.

The budget for FY 2021 could have something beneficial for county taxpayers. During the board’s Oct. 29 meeting, Calvert County Department of Finance and Budget Director Tim Hayden led an information discussion, which outlined the feasibility for three modest property tax rate decreases over the next three years.

In a memo to the commissioners, Hayden noted the “taxable real property base” in Calvert is about $12 billion.

“The primary changes that impact the real property base are the triannual assessment and new construction,” Hayden stated. “Those are the unknown in this calculation. Real property revenue estimates rarely experience any significant variance. The base is projected to increase about 2% a year.”

Commissioners’ President Thomas E. “Tim” Hutchins (R) had requested a review of current projections. The current property tax rate is $0.937. The majority of the previous board of county commissioners raised the property tax rate in 2016 to $0.952 per $100 of assessed value. It was Calvert’s first such tax rate increase in well over a generation. For FY 2019, the board reduced the rate by $0.015.

An initiative by Commissioner Steven R. Weems (R) to lower the rate for FY 2017 to $0.928 failed on a 4-1 vote. Opponents of Weems’ proposal indicated they feared the rate decrease might put Calvert’s AAA bond rating in jeopardy.

For FY 2021, a half-cent decrease in the tax rate was projected, with identical decreases in the following two fiscal years.

“Each half-cent equates to about $600,000 of real property tax revenue,” Hayden stated in his memo. “On the third year, the change would amount to a $1.8 million ongoing reduction.” “Each year, the incremental change is $600,000,” said Hayden.

“Perfect,” said Commissioners’ Vice President Kelly D. McConkey (R). “That’s what we want.”

Hayden’s budget spreadsheet showed that the incremental changes would be made by decreases in the county’s other post-employment benefit contributions.

“The money the county is providing to those trust funds is doing the job to decrease that liability,” said Hayden. He noted the current projections for OPEB contributions for public school and county government employees in the FY 2024 budget forecast. The current 2024 budget forecast shows a decrease in revenue is predicted. Hayden said the long-range forecasts tend to be conservative. He added finance and budget staff is always receiving new information, such as the fiscal impact of new laws, which impacts the county’s budget strategy. “We are always fine-tuning,” Hayden said.

Weems asked Hayden if the county government’s financial adviser, Davenport and Company, had been consulted about the rate change proposals. Hayden indicated they had not. However, he pointed out the consultants indicated no problem with the previous tax rate decrease. Hutchins said he had requested the fiscal forecast review with proposed parameter changes so that “when we get to the back end [of the budget process], we’re not doing something different.”

(Source)

NOTICE: On November 4, at 6pm at the Charles County Government Building in La Plata, the Charles County Board of Commissioners is holding a public hearing to receive community feedback on a new preliminary subdivision plan in the St. Charles Community. 

SMAR has been following the newest top lease aquaculture affecting present and future property owners in the Golden Beach / Patuxent Knolls neighborhoods- which will have a direct impact off both the community and homeowner shorelines. Please see photo for map.

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There is a public meeting scheduled with the Department of Natural Resources with concerns regarding the applications for oyster leases off the community's and homeowners' shoreline. SMAR urges any members with clients or strong interest in these communities to attend the meeting. SMAR leadership will also be in attendance.

Thursday, December 12, 2019 from 4:00pm - 6:00pm at the Golden Beach Firehouse off of Golden Beach Road. (Station 22, at 29848 Therese Cir.)