Opinions clash over Montgomery County ballot questions

Maryland

SILVER SPRING, Md. (WDVM) — Former lawmakers and current politicians are trying to send strong, opposing messages to voters about two measures on Montgomery County’s November ballot.

The newly formed “No On Questions B & D Committee” was met with opposition at the start of their press conference Monday morning in front of the Dennis Avenue Health Center in Silver Spring.

Gubernatorial hopeful Robin Ficker (R-Md.) and his supporters tried to delay the conference by blocking cameras before representatives from the No On Questions B & D Committee could start speaking.

Question B prohibits an override and proposes a cap on property tax increases.

“Amend Section 305 of the County Charter to prohibit the County Council from levying an ad valorem tax on real property that would produce total revenue (not including property tax revenue from certain enumerated sources) that exceeds the total revenue produced by the tax on real property in the preceding fiscal year plus a percentage of the previous year’s real property tax revenues that equals any increase in the Consumer Price Index. Section 305 currently permits the County Council to exceed the limit on real property tax revenue only upon the affirmative vote of all current Councilmembers.” — Montgomery County Democratic Party

Question D proposes dividing the county into nine districts, rather than five, and voting for all council members by district, rather than having some council members elected at large.

“Amend Sections 102 and 103 of the County Charter to divide the County into 9, rather than the current 5, Council districts; elect all Councilmembers by district, rather than the current 5 by district and 4 at large; and reduce from 5 to 1 the number of Councilmembers each voter can vote for.” — Montgomery County Democratic Party

Ike Leggett served as the Montgomery County Executive for 12 years. He’s against question B, he says there needs to be flexibility in how and when the county can adjust property taxes based on current conditions.

“If we allow for this type of cap, if in one year you wanted to increase that to respond to the demands that we see right now, under this amendment, you could not do so. That is simply unacceptable,” Leggett said.

Others against Question B said the county is forecasting a major revenue shortfall this year, and this kind of cap could make that situation worse.

Ficker spoke out against their message, saying the county needs to control spending.

“We just had a nine percent property tax increase, we never want another one. It’s not reasonable to raise taxes during a pandemic,” Ficker said.

As for breaking the county into nine districts, it would mean that voters get to cast a vote for only one district council member, rather than four at-large members and one district member.

Former Congresswoman Connie Morella (MD-08) represented Maryland’s 8th District for 25 years,. She’s urging voters to cast votes against Question D.

“You take away the ability for voters to also vote for people who know the entire area, and if they know the entire area, you can call on them for your particular need,” said Morella.

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