Sunday, February 8, 2015

Development boom leads to loss in school aid

Baltimore's development boom leads to loss in school aid

...One of those important facts: Some of Baltimore's most valuable buildings pay little or no property taxes to help close the gap.

Arguing that economic development needs the boost of public assistance, city officials have approved a wide range of tax breaks for projects built on vacant or under-utilized land. But the resulting cuts to Baltimore schools in next year's budget has renewed debate over whether city subsidies have been too generous — and whether the same practices should continue for future deals.
Some examples:
•Valued at $155 million, Harbor East's Baltimore Marriott Waterfront hotel cost city schools an estimated $3.6 million in state aid for next year through the funding formula. Meanwhile, under a deal the city inked in 2000, the hotel pays just $1 a year in lieu of property taxes for 25 years.

•Assessed at $58 million, downtown's Lockwood Place — home of the Capital Grille restaurant — is costing city schools an estimated $1.3 million in state aid. It gets a tax break of up to $1.5 million a year from Baltimore until 2024.

•Worth $40 million, the Zenith luxury apartments on West Pratt Street cost the city an estimated $920,000 in state school aid. It pays what amounts to just 15 percent of its property taxes under a deal that phases out after 15 years.


 "Yes, we have the greatest wealth growth. But because we've given away so much money, we're not actually collecting the taxes," Stokes says...

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