County Can Expect $10M Less In Property Tax Revenue

SNOW HILL – Worcester County can expect $10.4 million less in property tax revenue in the next fiscal year compared to the current, according to recent land reassessment numbers.

“I wish I had good news,” said Worcester County Chief Financial Officer Harold Higgins on Tuesday.

Higgins reported on the recent property tax estimates and assessment numbers at the County Commissioners’ Tuesday meeting, offering solid numbers on property tax revenues after weeks of dire predictions. The revenue estimates are based on the current county property tax rate of 70 cents per $100 of assessed value. The estimates also include the homestead tax credit numbers.

The just completed reassessments in the Berlin and Ocean Pines areas, roughly the north end of Worcester County, excluding Ocean City, show a 36-percent decline in property market value.

Much of the decline can be attributed to falling property values in the Glen Riddle development, Higgins noted. Homes in the $300,000 to $800,000 range are at the greatest risk for value reductions.

“Unfortunately for us, a lot of our real estate, especially in the northern end falls in that range,” said Higgins.

Commercial property has lost less value, he said, roughly 7 percent.

Worcester County, with a 20-percent reduction overall, lost more value in the recent reassessments than any other county in Maryland except Frederick, which lost 22 percent of its cash value.

House values in Ocean Pines declined 12 percent to 39 percent on average, Commissioner Judy Boggs noted. Overall, the greater Ocean Pines area shows a 20-percent decline.

Less than 1 percent of the properties reassessed retained their value or increased in value.

A house in Snow Hill recently sold for 43 percent less than in 2000, said Commissioner Virgil Shockley. Some people are even walking away from their houses because they owe more than the houses are worth, he said.

Commission President Bud Church joked that Higgins would not be allowed to come back before the commissioners until he brought good news.

“We still have our sense of humor,” said Boggs.

To which, Commissioner Louise Gulyas responded, “Absolutely. If not you’d be in the corner crying.”