Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said he is proposing the first income tax increase in more than 25 years.
BALTIMORE COUNTY, MD — Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski focused on schools, public safety and health in his FY 2020 budget proposal on Monday, April 15.
Declaring Baltimore County "at a crossroads" with a budget deficit and many needs to be addressed to maintain quality of life, he proposed an income tax increase, from 2.83 to 3.2 percent.
"For a resident earning $50,000 per year, this amounts to about $15 more per month," Olszewski said. "The last time the income tax was raised was in 1992. The cold war had just ended, Bill Clinton was elected president, a gallon of gas cost just over $1, and our county's education budget was about $356 million – less than half of the current [school system's] budget."
The county executive said that the tax increase would "bring Baltimore County in line with the income tax rate in our state's other large, diverse jurisdictions."
Residents would not be the only ones pitching in more dollars.
"We're also asking developers to pay their share," Olszewski said. "In other counties, developers pay impact fees on new homes and businesses" for infrastructure to accommodate growth. Said Olszewski: "In partnership with the council, we'll be working to enact a surcharge on new development in line with what other counties impose."
He has also proposed increasing the hotel tax from 8 percent to 10 percent and introducing a fee on short-term rentals such as those offered through Airbnb.
The increases would allow for the county to make the investments he said were required to maintain its quality of life outlined in his $3.28 billion budget proposal.
The county executive, who lobbied in Annapolis for school construction funding, said his only legislative priority this year was increased investment in school construction.
The county's FY 2020 budget includes a 10-year school construction fund, he said. Olszewski added that he recently visited a "building that is literally crumbling" at Lansdowne High School, where "students who use wheelchairs are being forced to attend another high school" due to the lack of accommodations. The 2020 budget includes funding for planning the new Lansdowne High School, he said.