Carroll Report Maryland Muckraker

Muckraker: Commissioners Discuss Removing Supermajority Requirement To Raise Taxes: ‘Revenue Problem’

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The Board of Carroll County Commissioners On March 7th

On Thursday, the Board of Commissioners discussed the possibility of removing the supermajority requirement to raise taxes in Carroll County.

Meaning, instead of a 5-0 or 4-1 vote being needed to raise taxes, a simple majority of 3-2 would be enough.

Introducing and first advocating for the policy was Commissioner Ed Rothstein, who framed it as an issue of consistency, pointing out that, now, a simple majority is enough to approve expenditures, but a supermajority is required to raise revenues.

“We’re spending millions of dollars with a simple majority vote” he explained. “And then we’re saying, we will not take these pennies of a dollar to bring in $3 million dollars, or $6 million dollars into the revenue, because that takes a supermajority.”

Echoing Rothstein was Commissioner Ken Kiler.

“We can’t raise revenues without a 4-1 vote, but we can keep putting crap in the budget with a 3-2 vote,” he explained. “We have a revenue problem,” he said separately.

Rebutting the pair was Commissioner Tom Gordon, who interpreted the policy recommendation as an indicator of their future intent to raise taxes. “If no one here is interested in raising taxes, then we don’t need to be sitting here having this conversation.”

“We have a public that, you know, a fair amount of them do not want to see their taxes raised” he explained. “You have an economy that is questionable.”

Joining Gordon in resistance was Commissioner Mike Guerin, who said “If we have a revenue problem, we also have a spending problem.”

Kiler put the ball back in Gordon and Guerin’s court, pointing out that, to avoid raising taxes, cuts to the budget will need to be made, yet specific services and programs to cut have yet to be identified.

“We haven’t cut one penny out of the budget” he explained. “And we’ve had months to do it.”

The supermajority requirement dates back to 2011, when then Commissioner and current State’s Attorney Haven Shoemaker advocated for the policy, counting its implementation as one of his accomplishments while occupying the post.

Last year, in January, after a motion from Gordon, the Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to strengthen the policy, requiring that a supermajority be needed to repeal the supermajority requirement to raise taxes:

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