Harrington Looking at Almost 50 Percent Property Tax Increase - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Harrington Looking at Almost 50 Percent Property Tax Increase

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 HARRINGTON, Del. (WBOC) - People in Harrington are trying to figure out how to afford a sharp spike in their property tax bills.

Yearly property tax bills showed up in mailboxes recently. Residents saw an almost 50 percent jump in how much they owe.

And the property tax hike isn't the only recent fiscal change in Harrington.

The city is also moving from a flat rate for water and sewer to a usage-based charge. That's going to mean more expense for some, less for others. Either way, they still have this property tax increase to deal with.

Kathy Blanchette had been paying about $750 in property taxes a year. The most recent bill she and her husband said they owed more than $1,100.

"We were both pretty upset. We're a single income family. We have two 8-year-old twins," she said.

Blanchette says she also expects her water and sewer bill to go up. Harrington Mayor Tony Moyer said the tax increase came down to not wanting to keep kicking the can down the road.

City officials say among other issues money from the water and sewer fees and reserve funds has been propping up the city's general fund, and they didn't want that to happen anymore.

They say the nearly 50 percent increase in property tax was the way best to make that happen. Moyer says he understands people are upset with the hike but something had to be done.

Blanchette is very upset.

"Very upset," she said. "Very upset."

And she and others who live and work in Harrington say they'd rather see growth, not tax hikes, lead to the city being on better financial footing.

"We've got two ways the city can generate revenue - fees and taxes or growth," said Jason Deen, whose business, JD Signs, is in Harrington. "If we grow, we can expand the tax base, increase taxpayers and reduce the burden on all of us."

"They need to come up with some way to bring new people, new businesses into town," Blanchette said.

Moyer says a big part of encouraging growth is having good infrastructure in place. Other people WBOC spoke with say the city's explanations don't negate their frustration with the changes to the water and sewer fees and the tax increase.
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