County and State Government in 2005

County and State Government in 2005

2005 Year in Review

On May 20 the County Council approved a $3.05 billion county operating budget that reduced property taxes to the limit set in the County Charter.

In the previous three years, the Council set taxes higher than the Charter limit with a vote of seven of nine councilmembers.

But in 2005, residents expressed mounting frustration with ballooning property tax bills as assessments spiked and councilmembers voted unanimously for a budget that included $296 in property tax relief to the average county homeowner.

County Executive Doug Duncan had proposed a property tax rate reduction of 2 cents per $100 of assessed value as limited across-the-board tax credits and targeted relief. The Council-approved budget doubled to 4 cents the rate reduction and added a $116 tax credit that all homeowners will automatically receive.

It also expanded the “circuit-breaker” tax credit for lower-income homeowners. Under a proposal by Councilmember Steve Silverman (D-At Large), homeowners making less than $55,000 per year can apply for a tax credit against the first $300,000 of assessed value of their home. Homeowners eligible for the circuit-breaker credit would average $900 of total tax relief.

Potomac was part of one-third of the county reassessed for 2005 and saw assessments rise 70 percent.

IN ANNAPOLIS, legislators quarreled over medical malpractice legislation early in the session and the possibility of bringing slot machine gambling to Maryland the rest of the time.

In the process, the General Assembly passed several bills that hit close to home in Potomac — including a package of bills addressing the spate of car accidents involving teenagers that shortly preceded the session.

The bills, which took effect Oct. 1, prevent teenage drivers from carrying non-family teenagers as passengers for the first five months of their provisional license period; prevent inexperienced drivers from talking on cell phones while driving; and increase from 40 to 60 the number of hours of adult-supervised driving time required during a teen’s learner’s permit period; 10 of those hours must be at night.

Legislators also secured a $200,000 bond bill for the construction of a new replica boat for C&O Canal at Great Falls Tavern.