May 14, 2012: The city budget, taxes, and the Environment & Safe Roadways Committees

The May 14, 2012 city-council meeting will cover several topics that will interest many Ward 1 residents. Please see the background material, including draft ordinances and resolutions, on the city Web site.

First up, following the public, council, and city manager comment periods, will be discussion and first-reading vote of an ordinance setting the the city’s tax rates for fiscal year 2013, which starts July 1. The second of two required readings will be held in a week. The real property tax rate remains $.58 per $100 of taxable assessed value, up from the “constant-yield rate” of $.5715. The constant-yield rate is the rate that would generate the same tax revenues as were generated the previous year.

The council is increasing the Railroad and Public Utilities tax rate to $1.57 per $100 of assessed value and the Personal Property rate, paid by businesses on computers, equipment, furniture, and inventories, to $1.55 per $100 of assessed value. These increases are designed to increase the proportion of revenues from businesses to earlier years’ proportions. (The assessed value, for these two taxes, is 40% of the estimated full value. 40% of the $1.55 per $100 40%-assessed value PPT rate is a rate of $.602 per $100 full value, compared to $.58/$100 real-property tax rate paid by real-estate owners.) I opposed this latter increase because I think it places an undue burden on the many Takoma Park small businesses.

The council will discuss and vote a First Reading Ordinance Adopting the FY2013 Budget. This ordinance reflects adjustments, made by the council to the city manager’s proposed budget. The adjustments include increased funding for progress on Takoma Junction revitalization, contingent funding for demolition of the deteriorated house at 36 Philadelphia Avenue (should the city seek demolition), increased Emergency Assistance Program funding for property-tax assistance, and city Mission Serve funding to help lower-income homeowners with housing repairs.

And the council will consider revival of the Environment & Safe Roadways Committees, which are not currently operating, but are mandated by city code. The council is moving toward retaining the committees, with updated mandates, and would seek to make appointments in the coming months. The SRC would work to “advise and assist the Council with respect to developing and implementing policies to increase transportation safety and accessibility in Takoma Park, especially for walkers, bicyclists, and transit riders.” The EC would “serve in an official advisory and coordination role for the City Council on all matters related to environmental sustainabi1ity, environmental protection, and restoration.”

If you have thoughts on these or other issues to be considered by the council, please let me know, or come out to the council meeting to have your say.


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