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While various Montgomery County parent-student association leaders are in a wait-and-see mode regarding proposed county tax increases to fund operating and capital projects,  the region’s realtors association has heavily criticized the proposals, saying they make it “almost impossible” for average people to buy homes in the County.

As part of his proposed operating budget, County Executive Marc Elrich, suggested a 10-cent property tax increase, roughly a 10% bump. The increase is needed to pay for staffing needs throughout county schools, his administration has argued.

County Council members Kristin Mink (D-Dist. 5) and Will Jawando (D-At-large) have introduced legislation that increases parts of the recordation tax by over a dollar for each $500 of the sales price.

Recordation taxes are applied whenever real estate is transferred from one party to another in the county, or for the refinancing of properties. Mink and Jawando say the increases would pay for general county capital projects and school projects, along with affordable housing initiatives.

The Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors, which includes realtors from Montgomery County and Washington, D.C., has heavily criticized both proposals, saying they exacerbate the affordable housing problem in the county.

Its president, Avi Adler, said in a prepared statement that the association is “shocked” by the recordation tax proposal, just days after Elrich introduced his recommended budget and property tax increase.


“When combined with real estate prices sitting at an all-time high and interest rates nearing record levels, Councilmembers Jawando and Mink’s proposal makes homeownership in Montgomery County almost impossible for the average person – not to mention for first-time homebuyers,” Adler said.

He added that because recordation taxes are an upfront cost, it will make it difficult for young families to afford trying to establish roots in the county via a home purchase. Economic growth will slow because of the proposal, he said.

Multiple parent-teacher-student association leaders—from whom the proposed increases are supposed to benefit—offered a different assessment of the proposals last week.


Lyric Winik, PTSA president for the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School cluster, said that there are capital funding and operating needs across the school system. Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School is in good shape compared to others like Damascus High School, an older school that needs to be renovated.

But there needs to better accountability of how Montgomery County Public Schools spends its funding better, on operating and capital expenses, before any tax increases are green-lighted, Winik said. She said an example of this are tennis courts at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, which were poorly constructed atop a parking garage, roughly four years ago. Now, there’s considerable leaking and wear and tear after just four years, Winik said. MCPS officials proposed the project, which was then approved through the regular budget process.

Tax increases might be needed—but county and school officials need to make a strong argument why, she added.


“I’m a big believer in public education and I really value our schools, but I want to have a thriving county where people aren’t on the economic edge,” Winik said.

One school that is in dire need of renovation, according to parents, is Damascus High School. The renovation project is at risk of being delayed a second time, according to Leander Uvary, a cluster coordinator for the school’s PTSA. According to residents and MCPS documents, the last major renovation was in 1978, and the school opened in 1950.

According to testimony from students at the school given in recent weeks, the building needs major renovations to its plumbing, electrical components and elevators. Narrow stairways also pose dangerous chokepoints, especially in the event of an evacuation, students said.


Uvary, who is the mother of a junior at the high school and was speaking on behalf of herself and not the PTSA, said that a major renovation at the school was supposed to begin in August 2024. If this year’s budget doesn’t fund the project, it will be pushed back to August 2026, according to a recent meeting she attended with school and county officials, Uvary said

Parents were excited in recent months as they were beginning to meet with an architect to lay out what the renovation would look like, Uvary said. But they recently learned that it could be delayed—County Council member Dawn Luedtke (D-Dist. 7) and Board of Education member Grace Rivera-Oven have been supportive of the project, but community members have risen up to keep the project on track.

Uvary seemed receptive of the recordation tax proposal, but admitted that it would be a tough sell.


“Nobody wants their taxes increased, but if it’s the way to get the project done, then in the long run it might be worth it … you almost have to put it in the stance of your own family budget,” Uvary said.

Uvary is open to other ideas other than tax increase—cutting from other parts of the budget, for instance—but county officials need to propose some idea, she said.

Craig Hillman, PTSA president of North Bethesda Middle School, is in a different situation. That middle school is well-staffed and the building is in good shape, he said. One of the main concerns is the overcrowding at Walter Johnson High School in North Bethesda, and whether the opening of Woodward High School is going to occur in time to prevent that issue from becoming worse, he said.


Hillman said it’s important to look at taxes as a whole—stating he is in favor of lower income taxes and lower sales taxes, but is fine with increasing property taxes. Having an increase in all three would greatly hurt county residents, he said.

The County Council has the final say on any aspects of the budget and the proposed increases in taxes. Members have until June 1 to finalize the capital and operating budgets, per the county charter.