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As Long as We Remember...

March 27, 2007

Make the Check Payable to...

Farrell Keough

Who pays for newbies? Well, they pay for themselves., uh, right? It depends upon who you ask. Most new residents to the Frederick area are rich, self-absorbed, transplants from Montgomery County... right? Well, some may be.

But many are from other states in the union as well as other nations of the world. Many are not rich, but rather everyday people employed in everyday jobs. And, a few are not so self-absorbed.

As far as I have seen, no one in the Frederick area has tried to get out of paying a share, an extra share, of taxes for the privilege of living in this county. This is quite a testimony to these new residents as the same is not necessarily true of our neighbors to the south who are much more acquainted with taxation.

A recent article in The Washington Post seems to indicate that neither the developer, nor the residents "may" be paying for new building: Montgomery Tax Proposal Assailed - Washington Post. If this becomes the law, then who will pay for increased growth?

Well, everyone. Whether they have lived in that area for many years or just moved there. At least that may be what happens in Montgomery County, because many Frederick County newbies already pay extra for growth.

For instance, those who live in Urbana already pay a 30-year CDA amounting to somewhere around $125 per month and with an allowance of a two percent (2%) increase for each year.

One of the interesting aspects of this tax is the summary of the legislation: ".The Urbana CDA was created by Frederick County, pursuant to the Legislation, to provide financing for the design, construction, and installation of certain infrastructure improvements. The improvements include water and sewer systems, road construction (interchange and other improvements to I-270, State Route 80 and Route 355, and construction of new public streets), site improvements (grading, storm water management and utility systems) and recreational amenities."

This "language" ended up in the closing documents of some homes and did not actually translate into monies for the area roadways described above. The money's taxed have not gone towards I-270 for instance, but the idea may well have had good intentions.

I imagine many on the Board of County Commissioners would have preferred a slight increase in this tax and had that money going towards things such as the I-270 interchange or even, (if possible, since this is a federal roadway) an expansion of I-270 to three or four lanes each way through Frederick County. Of course, that is water under the overpass.

Now, I have had conversations with a few locals and old timers in Frederick County about extra taxes for newbies. I cannot say exactly who these folks are, (I have to assume they were locals and old timers since that is the impression I was given) as this was a forum conversation and they chose not to use their real names. But that did not prevent them from giving me many opinions on what amenities and necessities should be taxed and paid for by newbies.

These suggestions ranged from road improvements and maintenance through to parks and libraries. We spoke in a very congenial manner, but the conversation was quite robust. I often played the "Devil's advocate" to illicit more information on how much and what constituted "needed" amenities for these residents. I have no idea if this conversation benefited anyone other than myself, but this forum has almost 1,000 participants, so it may well have been read by many more than those who actively participated.

I see no reason to go into the specifics of this long conversation, unless some of the issues are taken up by our local politicians. Long and short, while there are many opinions on this issue, the precise mechanism to acquire these monies - and just what amenities are necessary - was never truly solved through this long conversation.

But I digress. My original point was a display of the fact that newbies to Frederick County at least attempt to carry their additional weight; some jog, some light weights, some watch their diets. Oops, I meant financial weight.

This action by our neighbors to attempt to remove the additional burden placed upon them is an example not seen in Frederick. While much talk has arisen about growth and how to solve the problems it brought, it seems that at least some of these new residents to Frederick are accepting a long-term debt to alleviate some of the expense surrounding growth.

I hope those who feel some animosity towards new residents will remember this and ask themselves if a 30-year debt constitutes an attempt to share a burden.

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