Monday, October 21, 2013

MCPS Cell Towers Owe $86K in Property Taxes

Cell towers on public school playgrounds represent lost property tax revenue for the State of Maryland.  For 10 years MCPS cell towers escaped paying any property taxes.  It was only after years of advocacy by Louis Wilen that property tax bills were finally issued to the MCPS cell tower telecommunications companies.

However, the bills could only be issued retroactively for 3 years.  So MCPS cell towers escaped paying property taxes for 7 years. 

Now that property tax bills are being issued, let's take a look at which telecommunications companies aren't paying.  Note that when these bills are not paid the State of Maryland can not force a tax sale like they would on a home. Instead, the State must take each of these bills to Court for collection.

The chart below shows which telecommunications companies owe property taxes on their cell towers on MCPS playgrounds. Some of these companies owe 5 years of property taxes.

17,202.24Sprint/NextelRandolph RoadKennedy High School
16,345.63Tower CoEmory Grove RoadWoodwards Road School site
16,342.07Tower CoOld Georgetown RoadTilden Middle School
15,588.20Sprint/NextelEmory Grove RoadWoodwards Road School site
13,693.68ComcastEmory Grove RoadWoodwards Road School site
7,083.86Clear Wireless 12501 Dalewood DriveWheaton High School
178.72Clear Wireless Valley Brook DriveSpringbrook High School
76.92CricketOlney Sandy Spring RoadSherwood High School

TOTAL in over due property tax bills for MCPS cell towers:  $86,511.32


  1. MCPS should give written notice of the carriers that the law says they must pay the taxes that they owe. The standard MCPS cell tower contract requires the carrier “to comply with all applicable governmental laws and regulations.” Failure to comply so is a breach of the cell tower contracts. If MCPS gives written notice to the carriers and they do not comply within 30 days they are in default.

  2. Apparently these deadbeats don’t care about paying their fair share or our children’s health and safety. Taking these deadbeats to court costs taxpayers even more money. I have no doubt that the cell operators just chalk all this up to the cost of doing business. After you don’t pay your property tax for long enough, your house is sold in a tax auction and your home is impounded. That’s what needs to be done with these deadbeat cell sites. Chain them up under lock and key (including a formal legal notice issued by the state). Cell sites require periodic maintenance. A lockout will bring these deadbeats back to the table with their checkbooks, because downed cell sites cost wireless providers many thousands of dollars each day. Perhaps Mr. Augustino could represent these deadbeats. Business is looking up!


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