By Matt Bush
Residents could be seeing higher utility bills in Maryland's Montgomery County under a proposal from County Executive Isiah Leggett.
Leggett is asking for a more than 63 percent increase in the county's fuel energy tax as a way to close a widening budget gap. Joe Beach, the director of the county's office of management and budget, says he knows the plan is unpopular.
"The alternative to not having this tax increase would mean a property tax increase or further service level reductions across all agencies," says Beach.
Many businesses say the tax hike would unfairly burden them, according to Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner.
"In some instances, the bio-tech industry that we are so assiduously seeking to attract to Montgomery County would face a $500,000 dollar increase in their utility bills," he says.
Leggett claims the average homeowner in the county would see a $5 monthly increase on their utility bill if the hike is passed. The tax has been increased several times over the past 10 years, including its tripling in 2003, under which homeowners on average paid about $40 more per year.