The current Carroll County Board of Commissioners since the 2002 election have declared war on growth. At every turn, through every media outlet and their own tax-funded propaganda networks, promised Carroll's citizens relief from rampant out of control growth.
Professing distance from developers and large landowners, the commissioners' promised "Smart Growth." Repeatedly, it was stressed, growth is straining... infrastructure, the citizens of Carroll needed relief from the overcrowding. Further promises of allowing growth to pay for itself, citizens were lead to believe that new residents would pay for the services strained by a burgeoning population.
In the first week upon entering office, the Commissioners began their "New Carroll Order." Quietly without public debate formulated their tax and spend administration, raising the piggy back tax by 2.9 percent, (Three percent is the cap allowed without legislative approval) a precursor to the madness that was to ensue. Thereafter, every fee, tax, and levy in their control began to increase on current residents, including water and sewer rates. The Transfer Tax remained constant as the State Delegation refused to entertain it, with one vote from the 9B delegate in favor of more taxation.
As the tax dollars poured in, an unprecedented surplus emerged. One would expect the surplus to either, become a rainy day fund or returned to taxpayers through credits. Neither would be the case.
Little did one realize that the words "controlling rampant growth" -- currently running about five and a half percent since 2002-- was a catch phrase, meant to pacify the bridge burners and sooth the rest of Carroll's residents into complacency. One would think that County Government would grow at about the same rate. This was not to be.
Every department in County Government then turned out with a story. Space was limited, equipment was getting old, and managerial salaries need to be on par with other counties.
The Commissioners agreed, the county would emulate Montgomery County. Setting aside the vast population difference and its form of council government, they sought parody, for overworked department heads and cramped office conditions.
Understanding that the expediential growth of Carroll County Government was their true goal, it turns out, current residents are fully funding this burgeoning and out of control administration.
The Commissioners sold Carroll's taxpayers a bill of goods; the numbers presented in the current budget bears this out.
"Crunching the numbers", as the late Maurice "Ed" Wheatley so eloquently used to say, "proves the feint, the ruse".
In 2002 the commissioners came into office with an overall budget of $307,073,001. Upon leaving office, they will be foisting a budget (FY07) on a new administration and Carroll's taxpayers for $468,925,118, a whopping 35 percent increase. Compare that to the five and a half percent residential growth from 2002 to April of this year, current residents are paying for this board's vision of emulating the regions other counties.
Ignoring the opportunity to lower the tax cap with the increase in state property assessments, the income derived from property taxes collected in 2002 of $109,026,120 was driven up 30 percent to $157,025,120 for FY07. Current residents are funding the expansion of this board's recklessness.
An increase in recordation tax in 2004 from $3.50 to five dollars per $500 garnished a mind boggling 61 percent windfall for the period between 2002 and now. In 2002 the county collected $9,157,726 at the three fifty rate and will have collected $24,000,000 by year end. Because the bulk of recordation taxes collected come from refinancing mortgages, current residents in effect are again paying for the exponential growth of this supposedly frugal board.
The next time the commissioners prattle on about controlling growth and lambasting the Annapolis delegation for not giving them more power to raise your taxes, be darn glad that this administration does not have the benefit of Code Home Rule or charter.
It is clear that the current board cannot handle the autonomy or the lack of oversight of Article 66b to protect county residents from taxation without honest representation.