Baltimore Sun photo by Algerina Perna
Brand new Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake addressed the city yesterday in her first state of the city address since her election, as reported by The Daily Record last night. Her mainly economic speech focused on the budget woes of Baltimore (the city has accumulated a $120 million budget deficit). Most notably, she stated that the deficit is in fact equal to a 36-cent raise in the property tax – however, she pledged to avoid raising the property tax in Baltimore, telling City Council that “if we work together, we can pledge we will not raise property taxes to fix this budget gap.”
The property tax issue is certainly one of the first things on the minds of real estate developers and investors. Fear of raising the already steep tax is palpable as leery investors stand back and assess the health of the real estate market, the development of which would certainly be harmed by a property tax increase. Currently, Baltimore taxes real property at twice the rate of anywhere in Maryland: $2.268 per $100 of assessed value.
Whether Rawlings-Blake will be able to accomplish this goal remains to be seen. Nearly 60 percent of the city’s funds come from property taxes.
“The Great Recession has created the most difficult budget environment in memory. By making everything a priority, nothing is a priority. Our limited resources have been spread too thin, in too many areas. As a result, we now inherit a devastating $120 million deficit,” she is quoted by Daily Report.
Rawlings-Blake has been supported by fellow councilmen in this decision, one of whom claims it to be a simple “yes-no” decision.