- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Commissioner: Not enough done to cut spending
By ERICA MITRANOStaff writer
Constituents debated a planned 5.1 percent property tax hike at a meeting with Charles County Commissioner Reuben B. Collins II (D), with the two most vocal participants split between support and opposition.
Collins himself said he was uncomfortable with the increase, which he termed “one of the highest in terms of percentage in recent Charles County history.”
But Michael Lucchesi of Waldorf thought taxes should increase even more.
“You have to raise them in order to pay the bill. I would have wished you went to 10 percent,” Lucchesi said.
“We’ll send you the bill,” retorted Frank DiMeglio Jr., also a Waldorf resident, at the meeting held at the Capital Clubhouse in Waldorf on Monday night.
“This is not rocket-science work,” DiMeglio said later. “Based on the budget, this rate increase does not give you any cushion, does not give you anything extra. In 2013, there could well be another recession, could be another spike in unemployment. The reason the government is having issues, one is, you have foreclosures and because of foreclosures, those [housing] values have driven those prices down. If you want to sell your house, good luck.”
Collins said the proposed fiscal 2013 budget, approved June 26, bore scrutiny.
“I will be doing everything conceivable we’re able to address and respond to the challenge the budget faces for us. … What I would have been more comfortable with was approving actual cuts” instead of tax increases, Collins said.
He did not give specifics, but said that, as a lawyer representing people facing foreclosure, he was particularly alarmed by property tax increases, which could make it harder for the struggling to stay in their homes.
“One of my concerns, and what I’ll be stating tomorrow, this isn’t about being against teachers. It’s not against law enforcement,” Collins said, referring to workers whose raises will be funded by the new taxes. “To me, my whole argument is dealing with the opposite side of the ledger, that’s where I am. If we can sustain this, this is a great thing, but I’m telling you what [DiMeglio] said, more than anything else, that is where I feel I failed as a county commissioner.
“When I first ran for office, [there was] one thing I talked about more than anything else, and that was the importance of increasing our commercial tax base. I can tell you honestly, other than on a very minute level, the type of increase in that part of our budget has not taken hold.”