Commissioners Suggest Tax Increases May Be Necessary
La Plata, MD - 5/24/2012
By Andy Marquis
During a briefing on the FY2013 budget, Commissioner President Candice Quinn Kelly (D) suggested tax increases may be necessary to deal with a $5.8 million deficit. Kelly said that the question would be asked during a bond agency trip to New York scheduled for next week.
As it stands, it appears likely the commissioners will approve an increase in the constant yield, though no vote has been given.
“Is it a fair statement that this board is if we are open to raising taxes or revenues in order to accomplish a balanced budget,” Kelly said. “I’d like guidance from staff that this board is open to raising taxes in some shape or form. They will ask that question in New York.”
“The alternative is cutting services,” Commissioner Ken Robinson (D: 2nd) said. “And I’m not open to cuts so I’m open to tax increases.”
“I’m open to potential options that exist but would like to explore potential of what is out there for cuts,” Commissioner Vice President Reuben Collins (D) said. “Even though we’re still late in the game, we have to start making critical decisions. I’m weighing conversations I’ve had with citizens. Clearly, this presentation, showing where we have a deficit, that is a serious matter and I don’t take that lightly but I think we could be very, we can use best possible language to address bond rating agencies that we’re open to best possible options.”
Collins reaffirmed that statement Wednesday night, saying he wanted more information before committing to tax increases.
“Do you know where you would cut,” Kelly asked Collins.
“No I don’t because we’re still exploring the budget,” Collins responded.
“We have a meeting in New York,” Kelly said. “Even if we spread it around, we’re looking at a deficit. What we need before we go to NY if this board, assuming we can do what you’re saying, if we have to, even if we spread it around and come up with a plan that is fair, we need to tell them in NY what we plan on doing. Are we not doing anything or are we enhancing revenues?”
“I appreciate that but I still think there’s ample time to grasp our options,” Collins said. “We’re getting down to the wire right now and just in terms to the analysis; it requires that we look at these things more seriously. It gives me better understanding.”
“I need some verbage that we can present next week that is agreed to by the board,” Kelly replied.
“I would offer this, balance,” Commissioner Debra Davis (D: 2nd) said. ‘Can we make sure everybody gets a little something? We’re spending huge amounts in certain pockets. We need to stay true to what’s important but that we make sure everybody gets a little everything. We can’t buy it all this year.”
“We have a meeting in NY,” Kelly said. “Even if we spread it around, we’re looking at a deficit. What we need before we go to NY if this board, assuming we can do what you’re saying, if we have to, even if we spread it around and come up with a plan that is fair, we need to tell them in NY what we plan on doing. Are we not doing anything or are we enhancing revenues?”
“If we slash things around, it still has a deficit,” Robinson said.
“If we have to do it, we have to do it,” Commissioner Bobby Rucci (D: 4th) said.
Budget Chief David Eicholtz said the budgets will increase significantly in the next few years due to the pension shifts as well as the opening of St. Charles High School, which will have an impact on the FY2015 budget. The final proposal will be submitted to the public on June 12th.