Proposal could raise property taxes in Prince George’s County

A proposal moving forward in Prince George’s County could mean higher property taxes for homeowners.

On Tuesday, the county council approved the measure in committee even after complaints during public comment that citizens weren’t given proper notice and a global pandemic and recession is not the time for property tax increases.

This proposal is tricky because it’s not a direct property tax hike. It would change the way your home is assessed.

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For example, if you bought a home in Maryland for $300,000, your county could later assess the property as being worth more. Under state law, your home could be assessed for up to 10 percent more, meaning you’d now pay property taxes on a $330,000 home, and that amount could keep climbing. In Prince George’s County, voters decided long ago that’s too much and capped the increase amount. Instead of 10 percent, it’s stayed around 2 percent.

On Tuesday, the council committee voted in favor of putting this measure on the November ballot. While the intention of the proposal is to raise property taxes, what you would see on the ballot would ask whether “the homestead credit percentage shall be no less than 100 percent or exceed 110 percent for any taxable year.”

“The argument is: let’s let the public choose. But you need to put a question in front of them that they understand,” said councilmember Tom Dernoga.

Dernoga voted against the measure, ** along with Jolene Ivey and Monique Anderson-Walker. Dernoga says the language is confusing and Prince George’s County homeowners already pay the highest county property taxes in Maryland. He also proposed changing the language of what would appear on the ballot to make it more clear to voters that they would be voting on an increase in the assessment percentage. It failed. The three council members who voted against the measure will hold a ZOOM Town Hall this Tuesday, 6/30 at 7 p.m.

The council has studied this for years, and the measure was introduced by council member Derrick Leon Davis.

“Montgomery County is at 10 percent and has been, Howard County is at 5 percent and has been,” said Davis during the meeting. “They have the flexibility of moving those caps year over year.”

Davis said Prince George’s County needs that flexibility too. The measure, if approved by voters, would allow the county council to set the cap up to 10 percent. Davis said money generated could go to schools, police, and pandemic response.

"Ultimately remove the stricture from Prince George’s County so that we can provide the very best services,” he said.

Davis declined an interview Thursday.

”There’s two ways to look at it,” said Dernoga. “If you’re a county revenue person, the county’s losing revenue that could go to good things. If you’re a homeowner, it’s money that you’re saving to put towards whatever is important to you.”

This proposal goes to a final vote on July 21. There will be a public hearing before the vote.