2021 | Government

Council leaders proposing new tax credit for first responders

Hucker, Albornoz hope bill will enhance recruitment, retention efforts

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County Council President Tom Hucker and Council Vice President Gabe Albornoz plan to introduce a bill offering financial relief to first responders countywide.

Hucker and Albornoz said they will introduce a property tax credit proposal on Tuesday. A credit of up to $2,500 will be offered to “a full-time sworn police officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician, or a public safety emergency communications specialist employed by the County,” according to a council staff report.

The council president and vice president said during a news briefing Monday that the proposal is meant as an incentive for first responders and emergency communications workers to live in the county instead of commuting from nearby jurisdictions. 

They hope the credit leads to better recruitment and retention.

The proposal is similar to one passed in Howard County, offering up to a $2,500 property tax credit for many of its first responders and public safety employees.

Hucker and Albornoz praised Montgomery County’s state senators and delegates, for helping to pass state legislation in 2017 enabling them to introduce their proposal. 

Hucker told reporters on Monday that he doesn’t know how many county employees might take advantage of his and Albornoz’s proposal. But he added that there are multiple benefits to having them live in the community, including shorter commutes, savings on overtime costs, and less spending on recruitment and retention of current employees. 

Albornoz said Monday that he has talked with the county’s elected officials in Annapolis and other partners on how to expand the property tax credit to include other “essential personnel,” including frontline health workers, social workers and other sectors.

There are challenges in recruiting and retaining those employees as well, Albornoz said.

“The term ‘essential personnel’ is such an important one, and one we learned very important lessons about during the pandemic, because people continued to have to report to work, despite some devastating circumstances,” Albornoz said.

Hucker and Albornoz plan to introduce their bill on Tuesday. A public hearing on the bill is scheduled for Nov. 9 at 1:30 p.m.

Steve Bohnel can be reached at steve.bohnel@bethesdamagazine.com