What Hath Norm Conway Wrought?

SALISBURY, MD – Taxpayers in Wicomico and Talbot counties need to batten down the hatches.  The tax man is coming and he wants a LOT more of your hard earned cash.  (Taxpayers in other counties should get ready as well).

While we won’t know the final damage for a couple of weeks, SB 848 and Del. Norm Conway’s HB 1412 are going to hit those of us who live in Wicomico or Talbot counties HARD.  A presentation at last night’s council meeting from Wicomico County Administrator Wayne Strausburg illustrates how bad the damage could be.

If the bills remain in their current form, Wicomico County taxpayers will need to come up with an additional $7 million for FY 2013.  Assuming that the county goes forward with construction of a new James M. Bennett Middle School (remember those of us who asked that the council and Rick Pollitt WAIT until a budget was finalized?), we are already locked into a tax hike of about $0.07 per hundred in the real property rate.  Both County Executive Rick Pollitt and several members of the county council were hoping that employee furloughs would end with the current (FY 2012) budget year.  Here’s what could happen:

Current Rate



to reach Constant Yield

  $0.0549 7.14%

to reach max of Revenue Cap

  $0.0165 2.15%


Tax rate before MOE

$0.8404   9.28%


to cover new MOE

  $0.0970 12.62%


Tax Rate AFTER MOE adjustment

$0.9374   21.90%


Rate Increase

  $0.1684 21.90%









Does this mean that Wicomico taxpayers will see their property taxes rise by 21.9% or their real property rate go up by $0.1684?  No.  We have to wait and see what version emerges from the General Assembly when they adjourn on Monday.  Then we have to see what Pollitt proposes in his budget.  However, this is not a mere exercise in politicizing an issue or scaremongering.  Taxpayers should be scared.

Here’s why.  Under these bills, local boards of education get a free pass from accountability.  Regardless of how bad the economy might be, they are guaranteed AT LEAST as much of your money as they received last year.  No matter how much money they waste, they are guaranteed that no county government can hold them accountable.

As Wicomico council president Joe Holloway noted last night, “The board of ed jets around the country and easts at Ruth Chris”, while test scores fall and all other county services take a hit.  To put it more “politely” we can quote Strausburg – “The board of ed gets an annuity”.

Spending does not equal quality when it comes to education.  Yet, Conway, Del. Rudy Cane (the only other member of the Shore delegation to vote for both bills), and the leftwing cadre from across the Bay, will make sure that your tax dollars pay for public schools that may, or may not (in the case of Wicomico), function in the best interest of the community and our children.  To make sure that the teachers’ union and bureaucrats continue to spend, unabated, core services like public safety will suffer.

Both Holloway and Strausburg are right. Conway’s constituents should ask themselves if they can continue to afford him.  By the time 2014 rolls around, many of Conway’s past supporters may realize that voting for Conway makes them the real jackass.

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