Balt Sun: Howard County Executive Ball’s proposed fire tax hike would be a 34% increase

Reported by Erin Logan – The Baltimore Sun/Howard County Times

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball has proposed raising the fire and rescue tax by 6 cents, a 34% increase.

The current rate is 17.6 cents for every $100 of assessed value on real property, which includes residences, buildings and farms. It would be increased to 23.6 cents by mid-summer, if the County Council approves.

Eligible personal property owned by businesses would also increase by 15 cents or 34%. The current rate is 44 cents per $100 assessed value. Eligible property includes furniture and equipment used to operate a business.

In Ball’s proposed operating budget of $1.7 billion for fiscal 2020, the fire and rescue tax increase is said to help pay for two new fire stations and the support needed to run them. The move would allow the county to propose an additional $29.5 million for the fire and rescue reserve fund next fiscal year, the budget projected.

This 27.5% increase to fire and rescue reserve fund is based on the assumption the proposed tax increase resolution will pass. Ball proposed a $138.5 million fire and rescue services operating budget overall for next fiscal year. If the County Council does not approve Ball’s resolution as is, the projected increase to fire and rescue’s budget could change.

The fire and rescue tax is collected alongside property taxes and is . While property taxes go into the county’s general fund, this tax goes into a fund specifically is designated for the operating and capital costs of fire and rescue services. The rate has not changed since 2013, according to a county press release.

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