Talbot voters are willing to pay slightly higher property taxes in order to better fund public safety and county officials are thankful for the support.
“I am very pleased with the results, and thankful that the citizens of Talbot County have decided to invest in their future,” Talbot County Council President Corey W. Pack said Wednesday in a statement.
“The additional revenue will allow for Talbot County to stay competitive in attracting and maintaining public safety professionals as well as providing for related capital needs,” Pack said. “Again thank you citizens of Talbot!”
Councilman Pete Lesher said he was surprised and relieved by the results but noted the county council will continue be cautious with spending.
“I am quite surprised by the election results on these questions, particularly by the solid majorities that each received,” Lesher said in a statement. “But most particularly, I am relieved, because without the passage of these reforms, Talbot County government was facing the distasteful choice about which essential services to cut.
“My priorities, as promised to the voters, will be to focus additional revenues on public safety, including emergency services and a compensation package that will attract and retain deputies in the sheriff’s office,” Lesher said. “The charter changes still constitute restrictive property tax revenue cap, and county government will still need to be cautious and strategic with expenditures.”
No matter when they voted, Talbot citizens responded favorably to the campaign led by the county council, Emergency Medical Services Director Clay Stamp, Sheriff Joe Gamble, and first responders.
Also lending support was the Talbot Citizens for Public Safety group and the local FOP lodge.
Those urging passage of Questions B, C, and D said additional funding was needed to support deputies, EMS crews, and other first responders.
Question B corrects inaccurate language in the tax cap; Question C eliminates a reference to CPI-U; and Question D allows the county council to temporarily increase the property tax rate above the revenue cap by up to one cent per $100 of assessed value for five years only.
A 2018 effort that included all three measures passed Tuesday in a single ballot question failed on a vote of 53.9% against and 46.1% for the charter amendment. One major difference in 2018 was an attempt to raise the allowed annual increase in revenue from 2% to 2.5%.
Following that failure, county officials created a committee to look at Talbot’s property tax revenue cap and make suggestions for changes.
Those suggestions included separating the three provisions into separate charter amendments over concerns that the 2018 ballot question had been too complicated.