Frederick County, Md., broadens veteran property tax credit
The Frederick News-Post January 19, 2022
FREDERICK, Md. (Tribune News Service) — The Frederick County Council on Tuesday voted to expand eligibility requirements for a property tax credit for seniors and military veterans.
The 20 percent credit will be available to active duty, retired and honorably discharged service members with a service-connected disability and their surviving spouses. It was formerly granted to retired service members only. The measure also removes an income threshold and raises to $500,000 the home value limit to qualify for the credit.
Councilman Steve McKay (R), who sponsored the bill, has said his goal is to make Frederick County "the most desirable place" in Maryland for veterans to retire.
"I just want to show our gratitude for their service," the councilman said during Tuesday's council meeting. "And there aren't many ways we can do that, but this is one of those ways."
Council Vice President Michael Blue (R), Councilman Phil Dacey (R) and Councilman Kai Hagen (D) were all co-sponsors on McKay's bill, so it had the four votes necessary to pass before Tuesday.
Council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer, Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater and Councilman Jerry Donald, all Democrats, voted against the measure. Keegan-Ayer was adamantly opposed to McKay raising to $500,000 the home value limit to qualify for the credit.
As someone with multiple family members who served in the military, including her father and her son, Keegan-Ayer said she understands the immense level of sacrifice service members make. But, she said, McKay's proposal was too big of a jump from $300,000 — the previous home value limit to qualify for the credit — and the county's median home value is roughly $328,500.
"As I put it in [the News-Post], that's a little too rich for my blood. I'm having a hard time swallowing that," Keegan-Ayer said Tuesday.
The council president proposed an amendment Tuesday that would've placed the home value limit in the middle, at $400,000, but she was one vote short of the necessary four for the change to be adopted.
"I'm not looking to rationalize the number based on the economics of our home prices here," McKay said during the meeting. "I'm looking at it strategically, because I want Frederick County to be number one on that list when a service member looks at the tax treatments they might receive across the state."
In addition to eligible veterans, the property tax credit is — and will remain — available to seniors who've lived in a home for at least the last 40 years and have a gross household income of $80,000 or less.
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