The County Council unanimously approved legislation today that eliminates any possibility of the County charging a fee to homeowners who pay their property taxes semiannually.
"The County Council today sent a clear message that homeowners will not be penalized for paying their taxes semiannually," said Councilmember Phil Andrews, the main sponsor of the legislation. "It was just wrong to talk about charging homeowners a fee for paying taxes on time."
Beginning in July 2000, homeowners will pay property taxes semiannually, unless they choose not to. The State of Maryland gives counties the option to charge a fee for semiannual payment. With this legislation, the County Council prohibited any such fee for Montgomery County residents, which could have amounted to $21 on an annual tax bill of $2600.
Also today the County Council approved legislation that makes the office of the Inspector General permanent and strengthened the office by giving it subpoena power.
The County Council established the independent Office of Inspector General in 1997 to review County government programs and operations and to investigate waste, fraud, and abuse. The Council established the office over the County Executive’s veto. It would have "sunset" on June 30, 2000 if the Council had not acted today to make it permanent.
"I am very pleased that my colleagues chose to support this legislation and to make the Inspector General a permanent position in the County," said Councilmember Isiah Leggett, who originally proposed the legislation that created the office. "This has been an important addition to our County government."
The legislation also gives the Inspector General the power to subpoena witnesses and information and requires the Office of County Attorney to provide legal services to the Inspector General.