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Board won’t raise tax over compensatory rate

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Slight rise adds $4 per year for owner of $100k home

By Phyllis McLaughlin

The Carroll County Board of Education last week agreed to seek the compensatory tax rate for fiscal year 2013 rather than take the 4 percent increase allowed by the state.

The tax rate will be on the agenda for the next regular meeting at 5 p.m. Aug. 23, when the board will formally vote on it. The board meets in the media room at Carroll County Middle School.

Superintendent Lisa James said she was obliged to bring up the issue at a special meeting Thursday, Aug. 2, because had the board decided to raise the tax, the district would have been required to run legal ads for two weeks before a vote. The tax issue must be decided by the end of the month, so that tax bills can be generated and mailed out in the fall.

The compensatory rate ensures that the district will receive about the same amount of revenue from county real estate and personal property taxes as it did in fiscal year 2012. The rate rises from 56.1 cents per $100 of the valuation of property to 56.5 per $100. This means the owner of a home valued at $100,000 will pay an additional $4 in school district taxes this year, rising from $561 to $565.

The slight increase compensates for a drop in the county’s tangible property tax base. Tangible property is reported by business and industry, according to Rob Robertson, Carroll County’s property valuation administrator. It includes equipment and inventory and fluctuates from year to year.

While real estate valuations actually rose nearly $3.5 million countywide, tangible property assessments fell, bringing the combined value of all adjusted property in January 2012 to $727.9 million versus $731.3 million in January 2011.

The district historically has taken the 4 percent increase. In fact, the district’s tax rates climbed 4 percent each year from 2003 to 2011, rising from 44.1 per $100 of assessed real estate and 44.2 percent per $100 of assessed personal property to 53.9 per $100 of assessed value for both real estate and personal property.

Last year, the district took the compensating rate, which raised the tax rate on both to 56.1 cents per $100.

Had the board opted to consider the 4 percent increase this year, the tax rate would have gone up to 58.7 cents per $100, which would have added $22 to the tax bill of the owner of a $100,000 home for 2013.

“I don’t want to put any more burden on residents, but we want to have an excellent system,” Board Member Tommy Unker said. “Let’s live on it again for a year.”

“We feel confident with that amount” generated by the compensatory rate, James said. She said the district managed to work with the compensatory rate last year, as well.