Someone Noticed planned to do an article outlining Elkton’s history with tax and utility rate increases since 2003. But that story is getting pushed ahead after initial coverage of the budget workshop, the one where citizens aren’t allowed to speak and documents aren’t shared, generated lots of back and forth about staking out the claim of being fiscally responsible.
Though we’re still working on the broad piece, we have the values on the actual percentage changes from previous levies. During a six-year period (2003 – 2008), town approved increases resulted in taxpayers paying out 54% more than if the tax burden had stayed the same. In one year, the rate grew by nearly 26%. (See former Mayor Rob Alt’s comments about that here.) Those increases far exceeded inflation rates or the extra amount workers received in paychecks from employer annual adjustments.
During the two most recent fiscal years, the town has turned to a conservative approach with public dollars. In 2009, Mayor Fisona advertised that Elkton was going to increase the tax rate above the constant yield. However, at the last-minute urging of the commissioners, the administration reversed its position, skipping the advertised increase and cancelling the public hearing. For 2010, the board maintained the levy and that appears to be this years plan so citizens didn’t payout any additional amounts on the property assessment.
We’re still working on the full report so we’ll release a study of utility rates next. Then we’ll grade each of the candidates based the data-driven findings and what they’ve said and done as it realtes to fiscal responsibility with the public’s money.
Story Coming up Soon — What’s the data say about utility rates. We’ve already covered the board’s plan to vote on a nearly 60% increase right after the election.