County Council Candidates Take Positions on Nine Percent Property Tax Hike

Two years ago, the County Council voted to increase property taxes by nine percent.  The Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce asked this question about the tax hike in their questionnaires: “Did you or would you have supported the 2016 property tax increase?”  The organizations then published the questionnaire responses on their websites.  We summarize the answers below.

 

These council candidates supported the tax hike.

Bill Cook (District 1)

Paul Geller

Ashwani Jain

Will Jawando

Sidney Katz (District 3, voted for it)

Melissa McKenna

Nancy Navarro (District 4, voted for it)

Jill Ortman-Fouse

Lorna Phillips Forde

Craig Rice (District 2, voted for it)

Hans Riemer (voted for it)

Ben Shnider (District 3)

Tim Willard (Green)

 

These council candidates opposed the tax hike.

Ed Amatetti (Republican, District 2)

Rosemary Arkoian

Shruti Bhatnagar

Ron Colbert

Bill Conway

Hoan Dang

Robert Dyer (Republican)

Pete Fosselman (District 1)

Andrew Friedson (District 1)

Richard Gottfried

Jay Graney (District 4)

Neil Greenberger

Michele Riley

Mohammad Siddique

Shelly Skolnick (Republican)

Steve Solomon

Meredith Wellington (District 1)

 

These council candidates supported a smaller tax hike.

Gabe Albornoz: I would have supported the County Executive’s final recommendation on property taxes, which lowered the increase originally included in his recommended operating budget. He lowered his recommended tax increase after the State allowed the County to use monies in a State fund to spread out the financial impact of the Wynne lawsuit on the County over a longer period of time.

 

Marilyn Balcombe: It’s difficult to say without having a thorough understanding of the budget request.  My understanding is that there was a compelling case for increased school funding and I would most likely have supported some level of tax increase, but not the full increase passed by the County Council.

 

Seth Grimes: I am a strong voice for fiscal responsibility. During my two terms on the Takoma Park City Council, from 2011 to 2015, we limited our property tax increase to 1.2% – total, not annual; the amount, not the rate – and in response to my proposals, contributed extra funds to reduce our city’s unfunded police-pension liability, beyond the actuarially recommended amount. I did not take a position on the FY16 Montgomery County property tax increase. Had I been on the council, I would have pushed for an increase half what was ultimately voted, sufficient to meet school-funding obligations.

 

These council candidates did not take a position.

Tiquia Bennett (District 2): It depends. Before I agree to raise taxes on anyone in the county, I want to make sure we are not wasting taxpayer money on failed programs so we could have the money to spend where needed.

 

Evan Glass: Property taxes were increased in 2016 because the county has not done a good enough job at increasing the tax base. If additional revenue is required for future spending, we need increase our economic growth. One reason that our current leaders in Rockville are viewed with some suspicion is because spending measures have not always been allocated in ways that they were justified through public discourse. Moving forward, I will conduct myself and the work of the County Council in an open and transparent manner. If a spending increase occurs, it will be predicated on honest discussions that include a full accounting of how the funds will be collected and spent.

 

Reggie Oldak (District 1): As a Councilmember, I would engage in a thorough analysis before even considering taking steps to raise taxes. It is not possible for me to put myself in the shoes of the Councilmembers who took this action in 2016, but as a tax lawyer and budget policy expert, I would bring a deliberative approach to the discussion.

 

Council candidates who are not listed here did not send completed questionnaires to the chambers.