Hampden Hawker: A Report from the Front

Hampden Hawker

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Report from the Front

Hawker couldn't make it to the conversation tonight at Poly with the mayor re: property taxes, but a texting tipster provided Hawker with deets!

"Lame turnout! Maybe 100? But compelling public comments re: inequalities and burden on long (retirees) and individual homeowners vs. business and large developers. Adam Meister in evidence along with other more private citizens. Comments still open via email and letter.

Also, some good citizen math & alternative revenue ideas, i.e., higher taxes on the many vacant & underassessed multi-family & commercial buildings."

(And yes, this tipster texted "i.e." This is why Hawker loves her.)

Anyone else there tonight? Or send a comment via email or letter that they're willing to share?



At 3:22 PM, Blogger danielle said...

I did go to the meeting for the first hour. It was reassuring to see that some other citizens shared similar concerns. In addition to Adam Meister, known community activist Joan Floyd of Remington made some excellent comments. I haven't yet emailed my comment, but I might post it once I gather my thoughts. Thanks for reporting on this issue.

At 9:30 AM, Anonymous mobtown shank said...

"higher taxes on the many vacant & underassessed multi-family & commercial buildings."

Just wondering.

Don't many vacant buildings have owners who are impossible to track down? Don't many of these vacant buildings already have back taxes owed/due? If this is true, would higher taxes on vacant buildings really generate any revenue for the city?

Higher taxes on multi-family buildings (wouldn't these tax rates also increase with new assessments or is someone suggesting a higher tax rate for these properties over single family homes?) - so basically isn't this saying let the poorer among us bear more of the tax burden? What I mean is, doesn't multi-family buildings mean rental properties/apartment buildings? Don't most people who rent do so because they can't afford the outrageous prices for homeownership in Baltimore? Wouldn't this type of tax then be directly transferable to the renters? So what this means is higher rents for those who can't afford to buy homes.

And finally, higher taxes on commercial buildings. It was my understanding that all properties were being assessed higher. If that's true, commercial buildings are paying higher taxes. Is the suggestion that the commercial properties should carry a higher tax burden? This also translates in higher rents for many businesses who are already struggling due to the Recession.

So my understanding of these suggestions is that:
#1 - higher taxes on vacant properties won't generate more tax revenue collected, and may result in more vacant properties (which creates a new series of problems)
#2 - higher taxes for multi-family properties means higher rent for those who rent.
#3 - higher taxes on commercial properties means higher rent for businesses already struggling with growing rents AND a recession.

At 5:54 PM, Blogger Miss Ruby Ruin said...

You make some damn good points. Hawker was just reporting comments from a tipster, not endorsing them. Hawker personally thinks that the straight up increase is the fairest way to add an increase--if an increase is needed. Hawker doesn't think asking certain property owners to bear a greater burden is the way to solve the problem either.

Hawker's main question is this: what will be the benefit of these radically higher property taxes? That answer isn't clear, and one that would be very much of interest to everyone.

At 9:02 AM, Anonymous mobtown shank said...

The question I keep coming back to again and again is this:
where has all the money gone?

Even without this recent assessment hike, property values have been on the rise, homeownership as been up, home sales have been up, the city population bleed has slowed (which means more people living in the city), more small businesses have been opening in the city - all of which have to pay city fees every step of the way along the path to opening (as opposed to large formula retail which gets city/state welfare, tax deferments, etc. to open in the city), parking rates have gone up, city enforcement/fining of zoning violations has been more rigorous than ever - all of this should have generated additional revenue for city coffers.

So, why are we (city & state) so short on $? Where has the money gone? Was there a previous revenue stream that has dried up? And when we seem to be selling off public commons every time we turn around and downgrading city resources - well, I'm just wondering, economically, what the hell is going on?


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