Cumberland Times-News

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March 29, 2013

Allegany commission commend themselves for tax reductions

CUMBERLAND — Allegany County commissioners gave themselves a pat on the back for tax reductions that they say have brought a $200-a-year decrease to a homeowner owning a $150,000 home.

Changing property assessments also affects the tax figure, according to county officials. The tax bill for each homeowner will depend on the property tax assessment.

The current commissioners, Michael Mc-Kay, Creade Brodie Jr. and Bill Valentine, made a commitment to a small reduction each year in the property tax rate.

That reduction is now paying off for taxpayers, they said.

Commissioners discussed the tax rate during a special hearing on the constant yield rate at Thursday’s regular commission business meeting at county offices on Kelly Road.

McKay said one constituent had told him all the savings commissioners had offered was equivalent to the cost of a Happy Meal.

McKay said that $200 would buy a lot of those meals.

The slight lowering of the tax rate this year pushed the county below the constant yield rate.

Over the past two years, commissioners have been lowering the property tax rate by about one-tenth of a cent, and are likely to do the same this year, when they adopt the budget in June.

The constant yield rate would keep property tax revenue at its current levels, said County Finance Director Jason Bennett.

The reduction’s practical impact would be about $305,000 less in property tax revenue, he said.

It was “the first time in my memory that the county tax rate is under the constant yield rate,” Bennett said.

Some municipal rates remain above the constant yield rate, which requires, under state law,  a newspaper ad by the county indicating a tax rate increase.

Final rates are set when the county’s budget is adopted.

John Davis of Cumberland was the only member of the public to speak at the hearing. He said he supported the commissioners and that the continued tax reductions should answer their critics.

In other action, commissioners agreed to sponsor a grant request by the Allegany Museum for a transportation display focusing on the National Road. If the museum is awarded the $150,000 grant, it would not require a county match.

A local government sponsor is required for the grant application, said Gary Bartik, president of the museum.

The idea is to set up a chronological history of transportation in the area on the first floor of the museum, Bartik said.

Commissioners also ap-proved a tax credit of $500 a year for up to three years for qualifying residences that install a sprinkler system for fire protection.

The program is limited to newly constructed one- and two-family dwellings.

 Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.

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