Montgomery County scraps proposed tax hike

A proposed property tax rate hike in Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich’s budget has been shelved after backlash from residents and council members as governments at all levels around the DMV swivel to combat the coronavirus threat.

Eight of nine council members say the timing of the proposal is bad.

The proposal included a 4.5 percent property tax hike.

By law, the county is required to advertise the potential new rate, but, given the economic crisis prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Elrich and the council agree now is not the time to raise $62 million in property taxes.

“We’re advertising these rates because procedurally that’s what’s required. This does not indicate the intent of the county council has been very firm on picking the position that this is not the time to raise taxes,” said council member Hans Reimer.

“We didn’t have enough money to go over, so we proposed a tax, but the council doesn’t want to raise it then the schools won't get that money and more than maintenance efforts and that tax won’t be there," Elrich said.

History was made when D.C.’s council met online to pass a coronavirus relief bill.

That bill imposes a rent freeze in the District – requiring mortgage companies to offer payment deferrals of up to 90 days; halting utility shut-offs, debt collections, repossessions; and expanding unemployment insurance for self employed gig workers.

"I think the provisions in this bill are extraordinarily helpful whether it be the rent-freeze or the mortgage forbearance, the hold on debt collection and the stopping of utility cutoffs for internet and that sort of thing all of this is extraordinarily important," D.C. council member Mary Cheh said.

Meanwhile, Arlington County officials told FOX 5 they’re working on a plan to provide small grants to businesses impacted by coronavirus.

Arlington’s Economic Development director wants that fund to hand out grants of up to $10,000 each. But they’re hoping applicants will ask for less, so there will be more money available.