The ongoing effort to find county and town tax parity was highlighted at Monday’s town council meeting. The issue is moving forward as the Town explores State legislative assistance.
Chestertown Mayor David Foster and Ward 2 Councilman Tom Herz recently took an active role in addressing the longstanding issue of tax equity during the Maryland Municipal League (MML) Southern Summer Conference. They were joined by Cambridge Mayor Steve Rideout.
The key concern for Chestertown and Cambridge was the Maryland tax differential or tax rebate problem, which has persisted for over 40 years. The county commissioners’ failure to fulfill their commitment to funding a study on tax equity prompted Chestertown to lobby other municipalities facing similar issues.
During the conference, the town leaders engaged in productive conversations with neighboring municipalities in Kent, Caroline, Talbot, and Dorchester counties. It became apparent that there was widespread interest in tackling the tax differential problem and advocating for fair treatment of municipal taxpayers.
To strengthen their cause, town representatives utilized their role as the chairman of the Council of Governments to reach out to other municipalities in adjacent counties. These efforts resulted in discussions with the Intergovernmental Affairs Director for the Comptroller’s Office, who showed interest in supporting Chestertown’s endeavors by providing data and general support.
Recognizing the need for legislative action, the town advocates, in collaboration with other municipalities, submitted a legislative action request to the Maryland Municipal League (MML). The goal is to prompt a change in the language and laws concerning tax set off, ensuring that municipalities have a seat at the negotiation table and guaranteeing tax equity. Although negotiation details and studies remain to be addressed, progress is being made.
The officials also received support from other sources. Conversations with Ocean City’s mayor, who had previously pursued legal action, revealed a willingness to support Chestertown’s legislative efforts. Positive feedback and support were also received from the Attorney General’s Office, Comptroller’s Office, and Governor’s Office.
“We’re doing this process deliberately and we’re doing it the right way. Mayor and mayors before him having engaged with the county commissioner to try to get this problem solved,” Herz says.
The collective efforts of Chestertown and other municipalities demonstrate a determination to rectify the imbalance and ensure fair treatment for all municipal taxpayers across Maryland.
This video is approximately seven minutes in length.