Often discussed and perennially misunderstood or dismissed as old news, the conversation about the relationship between county and town taxes has once again landed on our doorstep as a topic during this election cycle.
According to Mayor David Foster, who in the past has appealed to the County Commissioners to address it, the “tax differential” is double taxation. Homeowners and renters in Chestertown pay town and county taxes, but Foster and others point out that the services provided to the town from paying county taxes are not equitable.
“Where it becomes double-taxation, for example, is when you pay for county roads but the county doesn’t pay for roads in the town even though you’ve paid those taxes. If you want the roads paved and maintained you pay the town for it,” Foster says.
Public safety is another example. the Mayor says. The town pays county taxes for county sheriffs but there is no reciprocal compensation or rebate by the county to pay for the Chestertown Police Department.
Median income disparities between the town and county offer an additional perspective on the tax differential. County median income is approximately $60,000/year while Chestertown residents’ median income is about $39,000. Foster sees this as another reason a new formula should be legislated in the form of a rebate or discount.
“There are really only three counties in Maryland, Kent, Wicomico, and Worcester that refuse to compensate the citizens when they are taxed twice.”
According to Foster, the issue began in the 1980s State legislation required nine counties to amend their own regulations and determine how much the municipalities save the counties and for the counties to pay back or help reduce the tax rates of the municipalities. Except for the three counties, the rest eventually agreed.
The Spy recently interviewed Mayor Foster to talk about the tax differential.
This video is approximately ten minutes in length.