Coalition fighting ballot measure that would change county tax policy

Community coalition opposes ballot question proposing change to county tax policy

Referendum would ‘strangle’ MCPS, essential services, group says

| Published:

Logo from Montgomery Neighbors Against Question B

A new community group said Wednesday that it has formed in opposition to a November ballot question regarding a change in Montgomery County’s tax policy.

The “Montgomery Neighbors Against Question B” coalition is made up of various residents in the community. Former Montgomery County Board of Education member Jill Ortman-Fouse wrote in an email that she is a co-chair of the group, along with Upcounty Citizens Advisory Board Chair Will Roberts.

Question B, if passed, would not allow the county to raise property taxes above the rate of inflation.

Robin Ficker, a frequent candidate, former state delegate and current candidate for governor, collected more than 13,500 signatures to get a public referendum on the tax policy change.

Ficker has noted that the county had a 9% property tax increase in 2016 and said county officials want to increase taxes.

The change would “strip” the County Council from the ability to “override the imposed limit, even if an emergency or some essential public services required an override vote,” according to the group’s website.

The “artificial cap” on tax revenue would “strangle” Montgomery County Public Schools and essential services, the group says.

The ballot question would also “almost certainly cause our county’s AAA bond rating to be downgraded,” according to the coalition, which has created a 30-second video to support its position.

Montgomery Neighbors Against Question B says its coalition members include:
• CASA
• Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America
• Jews United for Justice
• LiUNA
• Montgomery County Education Association
• Municipal and County Government Employees’ Organization (MCGEO Local 1994)
• Progressive Maryland
• Montgomery County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations
• Women’s Democratic Club
• Progressive Neighbors
• United Healthcare Workers East
• 1199 Service Employees International Union (SEIU) United Healthcare Workers East
• SEIU 32BJ
• SEIU Local 500

The County Council proposed its own alternative to Question B — remove the tax revenue cap and require all nine council members to approve a tax increase that exceeds the rate from the previous year.

Both proposals — Ficker’s and the County Council’s — will be on the ballot in Montgomery County for the Nov. 3 general election.

There also will be two other local ballot questions related to the size and structure of the County Council.

Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at briana.adhikusuma@bethesdamagazine.com.

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