We recently received a copy of a memo (link opens a PDF) sent to the Maryland House Ways and Means Committee from Diane Hutchins, Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Relations for Baltimore City. In the memo, she asks the Committee to oppose HB1096/SB889, the split-rate property tax for vacant and uninhabitable structures. If you remember, this measure was brought before the City Council, and received unanimous support.
In her letter, Hutchins claims “The Housing Code Enforcement (HCE division of Baltimore City’s Department of Housing and Community Development is now poised to dramatically and quantifiably increase its capacity to compel redevelopment of blighting [sic] properties.” We’d certainly like to know what changed from a week ago…a month ago…a year ago — why is it only now that the City claims to have the capacity to deal with the problem of vacant blighted homes? And does the City really have this ability, or is the City feeling the pressure from the scrutiny we and other groups have brought to this issue?
Folks, the bottom line is that we need this tax. We need to send a very clear message to slumlords that there are consequences to leaving their properties to rot while the rest of us have to deal with the mess they leave behind. Some of these slumlords have been doing business in Baltimore for well over 20 years — and the City is suddenly ready to address the issue? We’re not sold.
Email Diane Hutchins and let her know that we need this bill! Taxpaying law-abiding property owners should not have to pay the same property tax as someone who is constantly being hauled into Housing Court for violation after violation. [email protected] .