Baltimore County Now
Baltimore County Chief of Highways
Everybody’s curious about the price tag. How much does it cost to plow the roads and keep them open every winter?
In Baltimore County, when there’s a hint of snow – when the weather person says there’s a chance for precip tomorrow – we, in the Bureau of Highways, Department of Public Works, begin looking very carefully at the bottom line. Because as soon as the word goes out that we’ve got snow duty – that we’re on the clock – we’re on the meter too.
This year we expect that plowing snow (that’s with a staff of 400 employees manning three hundred trucks working from 11 shops) will cost more than $37,000 per hour. And when we put down salt, that price goes up to $108,000 per hour. That’s because salt costs more than $50 a ton and we stock about 50,000 tons at 14 locations across the county.
Sunday’s storm cost the County $1.4 million. We’re still tabulating the expenses related yesterday’s snow and will post the total shortly.
It’s expensive, of course, but the total cost to keep the streets clear and safe varies wildly from year to year. Last year was an economical year for us. Baltimore County spent a little under $4 million to call out crews, to salt and to plow for 13 storms – many of them just dustings. But “Snowmageddon” back in 2010 was more than five times as expensive. The bills came to $20 million. Snow accumulation that winter was estimated at seven feet!
For a complete picture, take a look at our website for a listing of storm costs since Fiscal Year 2001.
During the past 13 years the cost has gone from a low of $2 million (when accumulation was a mere six inches in 2002) to the colossal winter four years ago. The average is about $7 million. But whatever the cost, you can rest assured that Baltimore County's Highway crews will give it our all to keep the streets open this year.
by Keith Dorsey
Baltimore County Budget Director
It’s that time of the year when Baltimore County residents will receive their annual property tax bills. 296,000 bills will go in the mail this Saturday, and usually arrive just before the 4th of July. If you are like me, when you receive a bill and the envelope includes other pieces of paper, there is a great temptation to just toss that extra paper into the recycling bin. But before you do that with your property tax bill please take a moment to read the other inserts. There is some important information included with your bill:
- There is a flyer entitled Taxpayer’s Information, July 2012 that has important phone numbers to keep on file throughout the year as well as an explanation of different payment options, a change of address billing form, and other relevant items.
- I often get asked if there are other charges on a property tax bill in addition to the property tax itself. The answer to that question is yes. There are fees that are mandated by Baltimore City and the State of Maryland that are included on your property tax bill.
- While Baltimore City bills property owners directly for water bills, the County is also responsible for its share of the sewer fees which appear on the property tax bill as the Metropolitan District Sewer Service Charge. The County collects its portion of the sewage fee to help repair its aging sewer system as part of a federally mandated consent decree, and it turns over a portion of this fee to the City for maintenance of its sewer treatment plants.
- The State also requires the County to collect a fee for the Bay Restoration Fund (BRF). The State uses these funds to upgrade sewage treatment plants in an effort to reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. Residential property owners are charged $60 annually. There is a flyer in the property tax bills explaining this fee.
The Baltimore County property tax rate remains unchanged for the upcoming year. It is the 24th year in a row that the property tax rate has not been increased. If you have any questions regarding your property tax bill, please call 410-887-2403.
I hope this information is helpful.
Director, Baltimore County Office of Budget and Finance
This Thursday at 10 a.m., the Baltimore County Council will vote on County Executive Kamenetz’s proposed budget for FY 13. The proposed budget totals $2.69 billion. Although it is a very comprehensive budget, I’ve always believed that a picture is worth a thousand words: