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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Commissioners facing business-friendly test

With the state’s reassessment of property values in the Ocean City tax area this year, the public will get to see just how business-friendly the Worcester County Commissioners are.

The stunning spike in valuations — a 47.7 percent increase for residential properties and 32.5 percent for commercial real estate — offers mouth-watering financial possibilities for county government, depending on what the commissioners do with their real estate tax rate.

With the current county rate of 84.5 cents per $100 of assessed value, the county stands to rake in millions in new revenue from Ocean City property taxes while taxpayers in the rest of the county would remain relatively unscathed.

Their properties won’t be reassessed until next year for Ocean Pines and northern Worcester and in 2026 for the southern county. Although property owners in these two areas might see incremental increases in their tax bills this year as their earlier assessments continue to be phased in, they would not experience the leaping levy that Ocean City’s new assessments could generate. This is even though the new assessments will be phased in over three years.

It’s far too early in the budget cycle to know what the new county tax rate might be, but nonresident and commercial property taxpayers whose assessment increases aren’t capped by the Homestead Tax Credit are surely worrying about it.

Resort business operators are already facing a challenging year. In addition to the continuing worker shortage — partially because of the lack of affordable housing — the cost of labor is going up as the $15-an-hour minimum wage takes effect.

Consequently, not only will tourism-related businesses be paying more for supplies because of inflation, they also are facing rising labor and tax expenses.

A business-friendly board of county commissioners would take this into account and do what it can to protect the county’s golden goose as they ponder this year’s tax rate.