Over 100 local Realtors sign letters to oppose Somerset property tax increase

PRINCESS ANNE — The Coastal Association of REALTORS® (CAR) – which serves REALTOR® members in Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester counties – submitted over 100 signed letters to the Somerset County Commissioners in opposition of the 13.1 percent property tax increase proposed for Fiscal Year 2016.


“Too often, government bodies turn to the real estate industry to address their budgetary shortfalls,” said Vicki Harmon, president of the CAR board of directors. “In Somerset County, they’re turning to an industry that’s already struggling.”


According to CAR’s local housing statistics derived from the Multiple Listing Service, only 176 residential properties were sold by CAR members in Somerset County in 2014, compared to 928 in Wicomico and 1,759 in Worcester. CAR members believe that an increased property tax rate, on top of increased flood insurance rates coming later this year from FEMA, as well as additional property taxes paid by those who live in municipalities, are detrimental to the local real estate industry.


“Also, forgetting the fact that this increase will make it more difficult for our members to sell properties in Somerset, think about the people living in the county who already own homes,” said Sarah Rayne, CAR Director of Government and Public Affairs, at a Somerset County Commissioners budget public hearing on May 19, 2015. “According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey released earlier this year, Somerset County has the highest poverty rate in Maryland. In addition to young families, there are a lot of senior citizens in Somerset County living on fixed incomes who just can’t pay anymore.”


Local REALTORS® have asked the Somerset Commissioners to focus on attracting more people to the county in order to increase its population and add to its tax base, rather than further taxing the real estate industry. This can be done through increased marketing efforts, a more business-friendly environment, and a top-notch school system, among others. CAR has offered to assist the county in these efforts.


— Sarah Rayne is the government relations representative for CAR.

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