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Woodsboro forced to lower taxes

Erin Cunningham
The Gazette

(6/18) Woodsboro residents will get a 1.4-cent tax break in fiscal 2006. The town council adopted the constant yield tax rate of 13.8 cents per $100 of assessed property value earlier this week.

The 2005 tax rate had been 15.2 cents.

Burgess Donald Trimmer said the board planned on reverting to the constant yield rate. The constant yield tax rate is the rate at which the town would not receive an increase in tax revenue over the preceding year.

Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation employee Laura Foussekis said the town was forced to lower taxes. June 10 was the final day town officials could advertise a public hearing to maintain or increase their tax rate.

Ms. Foussekis said they did not advertise. Without advertising, officials could not hold a public hearing Friday and were legally required to adopt the constant yield tax rate — 13.8 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

Mr. Trimmer said town officials did not have a problem dropping the tax rate.

"We're financially sound, and we're giving our citizens a tax break," he said. "So, what more do you need?"

MDAT requires towns to advertise in a newspaper or send a mailing to all residents if they plan to exceed the constant

yield tax rate, Ms. Foussekis said. The last day for towns to hold a public hearing was Friday. The advertisement or mailing must be done seven to 21 days before the public hearing.

Ms. Foussekis said she does not know why Woodsboro did not advertise or hold a public hearing. She said she believes officials were confused because they were exempt from the requirements last year.

"They were exempt last year because the difference of the constant yield rate and the difference in revenue were less than $10,000," she said. "This year, they only went a few hundred dollars over $10,000, so they were not dealing with this in the past,"

Ms. Foussekis also said she had trouble getting in touch with town council members by phone.

`A lot of towns get confused," she said. "They just never had to deal with it before. It's not unusual for small towns to find complying with this law difficult."

She said some other towns ran into similar problems this year and also reverted back to the constant yield rate.

If Woodsboro had not adopted the constant yield rate, Ms. Foussekis said, they would have been referred to the attorney general's office, which would address the violation.

"They made the best decision based on the fact that they didn't advertise," she said.

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