The Talbot County Council has proposed at their regular meeting on May 2, a real property tax rate increase of 2.55 cents for $100 of assessed valuation for all properties located outside the incorporated towns, which is 5.3% higher than the current rate. Properties located within incorporated towns will have a tax rate differential of between 6.01 and 13.30 cents lower than the county rate.
During the public hearing on the constant yield tax rate, the Council made it clear that they were raising taxes regardless of what happens to the tax rate. The FYI 2024 proposed budget prioritizes public safety and education, which reflects a significant investment in the employees who are the backbone of service delivery. The budget also prioritizes funding for capital improvement projects, infrastructure, and addresses escalating costs associated with state-mandated funding requirements.
The proposed property tax rate of 0.74344 for county-owned properties includes property tax revenues that are 2% over FYI 23 revenues, an additional 1 cent increase to the property tax rate as authorized by the voters of Talbot County in November 2020, and a 4.8% educational supplement to support Talbot County Public Schools. The county’s property tax rate will increase by 6.14 cents, which amounts to a 9% increase, with 3.48% of the increase as part of the county real property tax rate. The remaining 5.52% increase is attributable to the education supplement used to pay for the increased funding for schools.
The county tax bill for a home with a property assessment of $300,000 will increase from $2,046 to $2,230, which is a $184 increase, $144 of which is attributable to the education supplement. While the proposed increase in property taxes may be viewed as a burden by some taxpayers, it is worth noting that other counties will also be experiencing the same challenges in meeting the increased funding requirements of Maryland’s Blueprint.
Overall, education expenditures for Talbot County represent 43.7% of its budget, with Talbot County schools representing 42.1% of those expenditures. The budget proposal includes funding for capital projects requests for school renovations and funding for infrastructure, such as roadway enhancements, culvert replacements, and the extension of sewer service in an effort to remove dependence on septic systems.
Public safety accounts for the second greatest expenditure in the budget proposal, with 23.8% of the budget allocated to it. Included in the budget proposal are requests for additional funding for school nurses and the cost of three resource officers. The proposal also includes a 4% cost of living adjustment and one step for employees.
The Council has emphasized that the proposed budget is the result of conservative budgeting practices that have been successful in Talbot County in the past, and that they are committed to providing necessary services for the community. The budget proposal will be adopted as part of the fiscal year 2023-2024 annual budget and appropriation ordinance on May 23, 2023.