Montgomery County families are facing up to $1,000 in additional taxes and fees as state and local agencies search for new revenue.
Gov. Martin O'Malley has proposed changes to the income tax that would cost 32 percent of Montgomery taxpayers an average $334 more annually, according to state budget analysts from the Department of Legislative Services. O'Malley had said the tax changes, which affect individuals earning at least $100,000, would cost a family of four making $150,000 about $191.
The Democrat's proposed 6 percent sales tax on gasoline -- once fully implemented -- would heap another $400 annually onto two-car families, assuming drivers are filling an 18-gallon tank five times a month and the cost of gas never rises.
|Proposed taxes for Montgomery County|
|Tax/Fee||Cost per month||Cost per year|
|Income tax changes (per affected taxpayer)*||$28||$334|
|Water rate increase***||$4.86||$58.32|
|Doubling of "flush" tax||$2.50||$30|
|Bag tax||50 cents||$6|
|*Source: Department of Legislative Services|
|**Assumes that driver fills an 18-gallon tank five times a month.|
|***Data from the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission|
The tax would add about 18 cents per gallon to the cost of gas over three years, according to state budget analysts. Drivers also were recently hit with toll increases at all seven of the Maryland Transportation Authority's seven toll facilities, including a 60 percent increase on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. And commuters using Metro are facing higher rail, bus and parking fees.
County taxpayers would dish out an additional $96 per year in smaller taxes and fees, including water rate increases ($60), a new 5-cent bag tax ($6) and O'Malley's proposed doubling of the state sewer tax ($30).
The water rate increase, roughly $4.86 each month for a customer using 210 gallons of water per day, was proposed by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission in Montgomery and Prince George's counties to help pay for construction and repair deteriorating water mains. If approved by the county councils, the rate increase would take effect in July.
In the meantime, Montgomery taxpayers have begun paying a bag tax, which generated $154,000 -- or about 50 cents per household -- in January, the first month of its implementation.
But that's not all.
County officials are considering extending an energy tax that was scheduled to end in June. That tax tacks an average of $160 a year onto consumers' energy bills.
And County Council President Roger Berliner says the council may be forced to raise property taxes, if certain parts of O'Malley's budget are approved.
Berliner specifically referred to two state proposals: One that would require counties to take on some teacher pension costs and another that would add as much as $151 million to Montgomery's mandated education investments.
The county has hit the ceiling on its chartered limit for property tax rates, but new mandates from the state could force the council to "override our most significant charter rule governing taxes," Berliner told the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.
The state's entire economy could be hurt by high taxes in Montgomery, said Jim Pettit, spokesman for the nonprofit group Maryland Business for Responsive Government.
"Martin O'Malley is always talking about the new economy," Pettit said. "Montgomery County is an economic engine, particularly in the areas of IT and biotech and a lot of other things that have to do with new economy performance. We would not want to see a punitive tax structure that reduces Montgomery County's ability to continue being that economic engine."