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Council Passes Budget, Keeps Fire Tax Hike

Members turn down Fox attempt to lessen fire tax increase.

The Howard County Council Thursday approved the county administration's expense and operating budgets for FY 2013, adopting eight amendments but rejecting a bid by Council member Greg Fox to cut the fire tax. 

"This year's adopted budget is lean," Council member Courtney Watson said in an email, "But preserves funding to the areas that preserve the high quality of life in Howard County including to education and public safety."

Fox’s amendment would have lowered the proposed unified fire district’s tax rate of 17.6 cents per $100 of assessed value to 14.25 cents.

Previously, the metropolitan district paid 13.55 cents per $100 and the rural district 11.55 cents.

Last week, Fox, the Council’s only Republican, told the Howard County Times he might vote to approve the budget. “There's a chance I might actually go for it this year,” he said, “Other than the fire tax increase."

In a statement released Wednesday, Fox said that his proposed amendment would allow the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services to move forward with its plans for additional staff, but "not allow the government to sit on over $15 million in taxpayer money," referring to the $15.3 million contingency fund in the newly-passed budget.

The fire tax increase will fund 42 additional positions in the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services, some of which will staff the planned Glenwood Station in western Howard County. The money also will provide two additional paramedic units in the county.

In a statement Thursday afternoon, County Executive Ken Ulman said he appreciated the Council's work on the budget. "I am pleased that they agreed with the decisions the administration has made" on education and public safety funding, he said.

Find the FY 2013 budget, including amendments, on the County Council's website

With reporting by Patch.com Editor Elizabeth Janney.

This article has been updated.

Dave A. June 01, 2012 at 11:11 AM
Mr. Fox needs to realize that there are career personnel in his district be they full time or part time and salaries need to be paid. This plus the fact that the development and increase over the years in residency in the west end of the county have increased the need for emergency services. A new fire station in West Friendship and Glenelg should have shown the need as well as the addition of Full Time personnel to both of these stations, and the recurring need to detail Full Time personnel from other stations in the county to Lisbon to fill in the voids when the part time personnel do not come to work. Emergency services are needed 24/7 365!
bill bissenas June 01, 2012 at 11:12 AM
""This year's adopted budget is lean," Council member Courtney Watson" There's no other way to put this, than to say Watson isn't being truthful. Howard County spends more per capita than any other county in Maryland, more than PG County, Anne Arundel, even more than Montgomery County. Politicians believe they can get away with such statements because they are counting on your ignorance. Howard County residents pay, on average, the highest property taxes in the state and rank about 50th nationwide among the 800 counties in the U.S. for highest property taxes. But Watson doesn't want you to know these facts. There's a reason why the Democrat Party is called the Party of Crime, and Watson, Ken "dirty, filthy" Ulman and the other Dems on the county council demonstrate daily that the Democrat Party deserves that title.
bill bissenas June 01, 2012 at 11:18 AM
Yes, government must create jobs for the sake of making sure people get paid. This is the logic of the left that has infected Howard County politics. No thought of property rights, no thought of individual liberty. The people of Howard County have become a piggy bank to help support the unicorns, butterflies and rainbows of the statists.
Mr. Drew June 01, 2012 at 01:01 PM
Bill, Here are the actual property tax rates in Maryland: http://www.dat.state.md.us/sdatweb/taxrate.html.

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