Legislation aims to help encourage first responders to live in Howard County.
In December, County Executive Kittleman filed legislation (Council Bill 7 – 2018) that creates a $2,500 property tax credit for public safety officers who live and work in Howard County. Last year, the General Assembly enacted legislation which grants local jurisdictions the ability to create a tax credit for first responders up to $2,500 annually.
Those eligible for this property tax credit include the County’s police officers, career and volunteer firefighters, correctional officers, and deputy sheriffs. All county public safety officers must have completed the employment probationary period and be in active service in order to receive this tax credit.
To be eligible, volunteer firefighters must have continuously volunteered for at least ten years in the County. In the event that a public safety officer is dismissed from the job for cause, the officer must pay back the credit that they received that year.
Over the past year, Kittleman has worked on this legislation to help “encourage first responders to live in Howard County.” Out of all the current County’s first responders, 16 percent of career firefighters, 10 percent of correctional officers, 32 percent of police officers, and 36 percent of deputy sheriffs live in the County.
This tax credit will help recruit and retain first responders and encourage them to both work and live in Howard County.
Public safety leaders in the County have given their support for Kittleman’s proposed tax credit.
In a press release issued by County Executive Kittleman, Fire Chief John Butler said, “ We have a strong combined system of volunteer and career firefighters and paramedics. This benefit will help our members live in the communities they serve.”
In the same press release, Police Chief Paul Gardner stated that this new opportunity will help first responders live in the community and Director of Corrections, Jack Kavanagh, expressed pleasure that local correctional officers were included in the legislation. Kavanagh said this, “It is something that has really helped our staff, they now feel like they’re part of the public safety community.”
“I’m reminded every day that our first-responders do so much to keep us safe and secure,” said Kittleman. “It’s now our turn to do something for them. This tax credit is one way of showing our appreciation by making it possible for more of these local heroes to live in the community they serve.”
The property tax credit would be phased in over a two year period with a $1,250 credit for FY 2019 with the full $2,500 credit to be implemented in FY 2020.
A public hearing on Council Bill 7 will be held by the County Council on January 16th. To support this legislation, you can attend and testify at the public hearing and/or send written testimony to the County Council at [email protected]