Mayor Ireton making strong pitch for county tax relief

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Salisbury’s mayor is calling for county leaders to concentrate on reducing a financial burden he said has “rested on the shoulders of city taxpayers for far too long.”

In remarks issued Tuesday, Mayor Jim Ireton said county leaders must address “fiscal inequalities,” the tax differential for Salisbury, Delmar and Fruitland and costs for county fire service.

An April 2014 Municipal and Financial Services Group study estimated the county owes Salisbury, Delmar and Fruitland more than $2 million, with Salisbury owed $1,1 million, Fruitland owed $98,394 and Delmar owed $55,015, Ireton said.

The study used the base rate of $.955 per $100 of assessable real property without differential countywide, and calculated tax rates with tax differential for fiscal year 2015.

Concerning the Fire Service Agreement 2015, Ireton said data from the County G.I.S. and 911 Computer Aided Dispatch System indicates the city responds to 62.95 percent of fire calls in the county, to 66.71 percent of EMS calls, to 56.58 percent of the county population and serves 58.38 percent of the county’s assessed valuation.

Even so, the city received only 23.87 percent of the county’s funding for fire and EMS in fiscal year 14. Ireton said.

“The county must pay for the services it uses. These inequities amount to $2.22 million dollars of Salisbury fire service provided to county residents that they do not pay for. County residents get three times more fire service than they are paying for,” he said, vowing to ask County Executive Bob Culver and County Council President John Cannon to address these concerns.

“City taxpayers are being unfairly forced to pay for the majority of the costs for county fire service.  The county must adopt a Fire Service Agreement, which pays for provided services. We, as a city, don’t give away septic service. We don’t give away water service and we’re done giving away fire service,” Ireton said.

He said he’s pleased Delegate-elect Carl Anderton promised to introduce a bill to address the tax differential inequity.

“City residents are bearing the unfair tax burden of providing county residents fire service for free.  We want city taxpayers to have their county taxes decreased to balance the subsidy the city is giving the county,” Ireton said.

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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