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Emmitsburg approves tax break

(5/21) "Next time it might really have to go up (if a tax increase is not enacted in 2013)." - Mayor Donald N. Briggs.

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners backtracked once again in the effort to adopt a budget for 2013 at their May 21 meeting by officially adopting a previously rejected tax rate that essentially will amount to a tax break for many residents.

The board voted unanimously May 21 to adopt a tax rate of 0.36 cents per $100 worth of real estate, which will force budget cuts to be implemented in the yet-to-be-adopted 2013 budget.

Many Emmitsburg property owners will actually pay less in real estate taxes in 2013 as a result of the boardís decision, but they might "pay" for that break in the form of reduced services or infrastructure work.

The see-saw budget work got underway at the commissionersí March 19 meeting when the board directed town staff to produce a draft budget that would cut town expenditures by potentially $140,000, a cut that the board noted would translate into property owners not seeing a tax rate increase in 2013.

The request to produce a budget-slash stemmed from discussion generated by the stateís recent property reassessments, which affected properties in Emmitsburg and throughout the county.

According to the state Department of Assessments and Taxation (DAT), the drop in property values would result in a reduction of revenue for the town if it did not raise itís real estate tax rate.

The current tax rate is 0.36 cents per $100 worth of real estate. DAT recommended a tax rate of 0.4265 cents per $100 of assessed real estate value to maintain current levels of funding.

Although staff did produce a slashed budget based on not implementing a tax increase and presented it at the April board meeting, the commissioners then expressed concerns that not raising the tax rate for 2013 could stymie public projects, such as road paving and other town improvements, and would likely mean a higher tax rate increase down the road to compensate in any event.

The board the voted May 21 to go with a budget with no tax increase associated with it.

The board also amended the proposed 2013 budget at their May 21 meeting, but it was not adopted, and consideration of adoption will be continued at the June 4 meeting.

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