When Mayor Joseph Fisona and the Elkton Town Board say they’re going to hold the line on property taxes, they know what that means. For four years now, Elkton’s political leadership has met the challenge in these difficult times by making sure homeowners in the town don’t have to dig into their wallets to hand over a little more to the municipality.
To help us understand the challenge of maintaing flat property tax revenue over four years, we need some comparative data so let’s look at how the county has faired. Cecil’s leadership increased the amount the property owner forks over by nearly 15% in the same period. And it’s unclear what they’re going to do this year as the Republican board initiates delays, argues internally when someone proposes solutions, and points fingers at each other. The deferrals began early on when the elected officials decided to hand the responsibility over to a committee to advise the board, and then they took a long time to make the appointments. As the window of opportunity to be helpful grew shorter, we wondered why the county’s political leaders didn’t have their professional staff take care of the task. Cecil County employs some of the best and most efficient professionals around and they know most efficiently how to implement whatever public policy orders the politicians give, without a learning curve. Give a clear directive and they’ll implement it as efficiently as possible, with the best overall outcome for the public.
After the county raised the burden 10% four years ago, a Republican majority took control of the board but managed to raise rates nearly 5% after some hotly contested campaigns where pledges were made to “hold the line on taxes.” As a result we watched as an internal party debate led by the Young Republicans took place to get theirparty members to hold that line. Following all that uproar, publicity, political pressure and sharp criticism they managed to pull it off, voting the next year to not ask for any increased cash from household budgets. This year we’re unsure what’s going to happen with the county as the situation for that governmental body is so unclear with so much infighting going on. But Elkton has already given its staff professionals their orders. The Elkton politicians told the them to not increase property taxes on its citizens.
The Fisona administration has consistently delivered, always keeping the constant yield so homeowners don’t have to dig deeper into their paychecks for the municipality. Although we’re usually critics of the mayor, this is one situation where we have to award Elkton a thumbs-up. We’d give him a double thumbs up, except that they did raise modest amounts of additional cash through a few other taxes and fees. At least they know what hold the line on property taxes means.
Stay tuned and we’ll update the county report as things progress. The advisory committee, focusing on how to cut expenditures, has to finish its factfinding and develop recommendations. Then the commissioners need to make the decisions.