DISTRICT 6 COUNCIL MEMBER DERRICK L. DAVIS ISSUES STATEMENT FOLLOWING TABLING OF CB-48-2020, PROPOSED CHARTER AMENDMENT CONCERNING HOMESTEAD PROPERTY TAX CREDIT CAP
I appreciate the opportunity to address CB-48-2020, a Charter Amendment proposal amending the Homestead Property Tax Credit Cap in Prince George’s County. As the sole sponsor of this legislation, I am grateful to my colleagues who supported this measure, guiding it through the legislative process to Tuesday’s public hearing, and providing critical opportunities for County residents to weigh in.
I have had the opportunity to participate in several virtual meetings discussing this bill, and I want to thank the community organizations and even some media outlets for providing a platform for me to connect with County residents on this important issue.
These discussions have helped to give context to the proposed Charter Amendment and the annual budget process, and to enhance community understanding of initiatives to address our County’s financial situation – matters that require much discussion and study to fully understand.
Council Member Sydney Harrison’s stated commitment to form a new task force that will continue the process the Council began years ago, with efforts such as the Blue Ribbon Commission on the Structural Deficit in 2015, and the Tax Credit Reform Commission in 2018, is welcome news.
It is my hope that as this dialogue continues, County residents will remain engaged and open to a greater understanding about the County’s budget and tax structure, and move closer to the flexibility, equity, and investment in our future that they deserve, and our County so desperately needs.
I was always aware that putting forth a legislative proposal that contained the word “tax” would lead to some difficult and complex conversations. I am reminded, however, of the words of President John F. Kennedy, as he addressed the fiscal issues of his time, “… an economy hampered by restrictive tax rates will never produce enough jobs or enough profits.” To serve our citizens in the future, the antiquated Prince George’s County tax code system needs comprehensive reform.
We cannot lose sight of the long-term fixes we need to address the County’s underfunded healthcare, human services, and education system needs. CB-48 was one opportunity for systemic change, and it is unfortunate that the public policy discussion, and the very meaning of the bill itself, were fraught with misinformation and politics.
More importantly, our citizens have a right to have their voices heard. It is the reason we have a Charter Amendment Process.
The intent of CB-48 has always been to place the issue of the County’s unique tax structure before County voters for a formal decision by the full electorate. Our Charter Amendment Process only allows the placement of issues on the November ballot in the General Election every two years.
Unfortunately, this issue, as defined in CB-48, will not make it to the voters, as prescribed by our Charter, and we are therefore missing a critical opportunity to change the status quo, and stop being governed by artificial caps that undermine the County’s value proposition.
Prince George’s County will now enter the FY 2021 budget season with fewer tools than any other Maryland jurisdiction to address our economy, which continues to be devastated by our COVID reality.
The truth is that the magnitude of this problem is not going away, and I believe it is up to us to make hard decisions about what POLICIES will best move us forward. The reality is that change comes with real, tangible costs to our community.
We cannot provide the services our communities deserve without the means to pay for it. And if we continue to leave these matters unaddressed, our communities will lose out, much like we lost out on the 4,000 jobs and commercial property taxes the County lost as part of the Westphalia development.
I respect the sentiment of my colleague, At-Large Council Member Calvin Hawkins, who notes that this bill has increased the “anxiety index,” when our focus should be on the “healing index.”
During these most difficult days for our County, I remain committed to working with our communities to balance the needs of our residents with the need for reform, and will continue to strategically and collaboratively address the challenges that hold Prince George’s County back.