Letter to the Editor By "Kathy Suite"

Kathy Suite
Tell Charles board to stop taking land
Letter to the Editor As the voice for property owners in Southern Maryland, the Southern Maryland Association of REALTORS® (SMAR) would like to alert residents of Charles County to the short future of your technology park and the Maryland Airport. The Board of County Commissioners has been considering taking your county owned land, which was planned originally for economic development and purchased with $6.4 million of county taxpayer money, and placing the land into an irreversible trust. With the steadfast attention of Commissioners Debra Davis and Bobby Rucci and their direct questions of the economic development county staff, the vote has been delayed- but time has simply run out. The Maryland Airport has received upwards of $20 million of taxpayer-again your- money thanks to Representative Steny Hoyer’s efforts. The first strike against the future of the airport was the watershed conservation district vote which took place last year, passed 3-2, made possible by Commissioners Murphy, Robinson and Stewart, despite the large public outcry of Charles County citizens. However by electing new commissioners this year at the polls, citizens have a repeal option where those 37,000 acres and 9,800 property owners have a chance to take back their lost property rights. The difference with this land grab is there is no repeal option. Did you know the technology park has interested private parties who want to purchase the land which would generate revenue for the county, the airport, the base- including the creation of new jobs in our community? Why won’t the commissioners place the land on the open market? The sale of the land alone would provide revenue income to the county on many levels since every real estate transaction produces high fees – and as county owned land, it currently produces no property taxes. How much do you pay for your residential property taxes? Imagine what 250 acres could provide to the county- we have. New economic development combined with balanced budgeting could help stabilize the increasing county rate of property taxes. Perhaps additional revenue for our county could help fund our teachers their necessary steps, the sheriff’s department the officers it continues to ask for and be denied, or provide a budget line to shelter the high number of public school children currently homeless whom receive food from the amazing support of our local charitable community. It is time to place the needs of the people of Charles County first. In Fiscal Year 2016, it is estimated Charles County collected $232,824,500 from real estate related taxes alone. Your property tax rate is 1.1410%, transfer tax is 0.50%, recordation tax rate is $10.00/$1000 and your income tax rate is 3.03%. The excise fee to pull a permit for a new home is $16k- before you break ground. We hope this gives county citizens the same thought- you are being taxed enough, your family provides this county enough of your hard-earned dollars- why would the county give away land which could provide fiscal relief to all? SMAR encourages citizens to simply ask why an irreversible trust? Unfortunately, you as a taxpaying citizen cannot ask why. There have been no public comments allowed over the last three months of work sessions or a single public hearing, despite many organizations and citizens, including SMAR, asking for the opportunity to speak publicly on this issue. That’s right, county-owned land, purchased with county taxpayer money- your land and your money- and you have not been afforded the opportunity to have an opinion or ask questions in a public forum. We encourage all property owners, taxpayers, business owners and residents of Charles County to reach out to the county commissioners, request a public hearing and demand they vote no on giving away the technology park. You can email the county commissioners at or call 301-645-0550. Again, it’s time to put the people first in Charles County. Kathy Suite President, Southern Maryland Association of REALTORS®