Policy change announced following controversial tax increase
BERLIN, Md. – This budget season was a stressful one for Berlin officials, as well as residents and business owners. A months-long saga that ended with a double-digit property tax increase. The process was so demoralizing for everyone that changes have been announced, so they can avoid problems in the future.
Williams admits that town businesses and residents deserved better than what occurred this spring, after not raising taxes for over a decade, they were alerted that a double-digit increase would be coming.
“I would say we were all blindsided. People who live here, people who do business here,” said Robin Tomaselli, the owner of Baked Dessert Cafe. “It was really stressful for everyone. Business owners, residents.”
Under this new process, council and the mayor would receive quarterly updates from department heads, go over projections for projects and finances, choose projects to fund or kick down the road and decide on whether or not to increase taxes by the end of March.
The budget will still be adopted in mid June and go into effect on July 1st.
Williams says this new policy is also intended to avoid double-digit increases in the future, and lead to more gradual tax raises.
Town officials hope this will give business owners and residents more time to digest potential increases.
“That’s a move in the right direction. Although I don’t think a couple of months gives anyone time to prepare,” said Tomaselli. “In my mind, at least six months. Maybe a year prior.”
Williams says this is the best the town can do to give its tax payers notice.
“I don’t think a year because you would never, I think that would be a lot to set aside while there’s always these major capital projects.”
Mayor Williams adds that they are hoping to create a reserve fund policy as well. This policy would determine how many months of operating budget the town should have in reserve to manage their excess funds more wisely, and they hope to pass this by the end of the summer.