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Quick and Dirty

“$1.86 by ’06” or Move

By Van Smith | Posted 12/22/2004

Federal social worker John Maynard and D.C. government administrator John Drann purchased their Guilford home for $476,000 last fall, and this year the tax assessment for the property jumped from $207,000 to $422,000. Now Maynard, faced with the prospect of a nearly $10,000 annual tax bill, is busy as a bee trying to whip up some grass-roots interest in tax relief. On the evening of Dec. 15, he led a meeting of about 20 potential recruits, explaining how dire the over-taxing tax situation is, and what city residents should do about it. For starters, he suggested a “fax blitz” to City Hall (e-mails and phone calls, too), in which people could tell officials that they want property taxes lowered to $1.86 per $100 of assessed value (from the current level of $2.32) by 2006. Thus, the name of his nascent group: $1.86 by ’06.

“Let them know that there are people who care about the tax rate,” Maynard implored of the reticent—though interested—crowd seated in the Peabody Room of the Episcopal Cathedral of the Incarnation in Guilford. But, he added, “you can’t just cut the tax rate, because you have to make up the difference” in lost revenue. He was prepared to discuss how to do that, and introduced a couple of dozen “creative ideas” for revenue raising that would shift some of the burden from the city’s homeowners.

Dave Rudow, an old-hand scrutinizer of city taxes and government waste, was in the crowd, and congratulated Maynard for “taking the initiative” in getting the tax-relief ball rolling, but questioned some of Maynard’s numbers and calculations. In particular, Rudow—a founder and board member of the Baltimore Economy and Efficiency Foundation, a nonprofit concerned with city governance—estimated Maynard’s proposed target of $1.86 would mean about $100 million in lost revenue, not the $20 million Maynard had claimed. “But don’t be daunted” by the greater challenge, Rudow urged.

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