TAKOMA PARK, MARYLAND – After a very heated debate, the city’s annual budget for fiscal year 2020 was approved with 6 out 7 city council members voting in favor.
“It was down to the wire,” explained the Mayor. “We always vote unanimously as we have to please everybody . I didn’t think we’d ever pass this bill with only 86% of the vote.”
The most controversial budget item was the proposal to increase property taxes, which is already the highest in the State of Maryland. The lone vote against the budget came from the Ward 1 City Council Member, who felt tax revenue outside his district wasn’t keeping up, creating an unfair balance for his constituents.
“We have the most expensive properties, and generate the largest tax base per capita,” stated the Ward 1 City Council Member. “It’s time other wards step up and build giant historic houses on half acre lots adjacent to a thriving downtown area with a metro station, like us.”
Overall, proposed spending increased 38% from FY2019, somehow a decrease from last year. “We had to make some difficult decisions and cut some popular programs,” stated the Ward 3 Council Member. “As much as everyone loves it, we had to reduce the free compost pickup program from 7 days a week to only 6. The struggle is real.”
The Mayor insisted that deep cuts were required in order to make room for new spending items in the budget, including:
- The addition of 17 more crossing guards at the Takoma Junction during rush hour times
- $35,000 per year housing assistance for “Clocktopus,” the beloved, giant crocheted Octopus, who was recently kicked out of the streets of downtown Takoma Park.
- A $500,000 business grant to upgrade children’s lemonade stands into organic Kombucha kiosks.
- Funding for a live orchestra to play “wrap it up” music when speakers at council hearings go beyond 3 minutes.
- $285,000 for a new library addition, an internet cafe dedicated to anti-vaccination and 5G cell tower research
Most residents didn’t mind the new budget. Takoma Park, the self-described “Berkeley of the East Coast,” is a town full of progressive individuals who take pride in their large government, even if it can be expensive to maintain.
“Adding tax revenue is how we help people,” explained Molly Hunter. “That revenue is necessary to stop our government from things like building new commercial buildings that could bring in more tax revenue.”
Some residents, however, were not pleased with the proposed tax increases.
“We need fiscal restraint,” stated Mark Johnson of Ward 2. “We should create a new government agency dedicated to finding ways to cut government agencies. It’s so simple.”
It’s unknown how the new property tax increases could affect the local economy. Some worry that the increase could drastically reduce the amount of shopping and dining at local establishments.
“I feel bad for our local establishments,” stated Jennifer Stern. “My 56 dollar property tax increase will definitely stop me from eating lunch once a year at my favorite Takoma Park restaurant.”
Still, the Mayor seemed hopeful for Takoma Park’s fiscal future.
“Each year, these budget negotiations get tougher as we have to balance our revenue with the demands of our increased spending,” explained the Mayor. “Which is why for FY2021, I will propose relocating all of our government facilities into neighboring Silver Spring, where we can save millions in property taxes.”