On Election Day 2020, two different ballot measures that will shape the future of property taxation are vying for voter approval in Montgomery County, Maryland, just north of the nation’s capital. With help from an Issues Mobilization Grant, the Greater Capital Area Association of REALTORS® (GCAAR) is working hard to ensure that the one that secures the county’s financial stability, promotes proper growth, and ensures its economic vitality, wins.
Zac Trupp, Associate Government Affairs Director of the more than 10,000-member association, explains that the county’s current Charter provisions on property taxes are fairly convoluted, and ripe for simplification. The County Council set out to do so, and has put a measure on the ballot that would set the Charter limit at the previous year’s real property tax rate, while allowing for a unanimous vote of the Council to raise the limit when absolutely necessary. GCAAR supports this measure, which was authored by a REALTOR® Champion Council Member. Meanwhile, a separate measure has been placed on the ballot by citizen petition; it would likely trigger more frequent attempts to raise recordation tax rates, says Trupp, and could could lead to an increase in the cost of much needed transportation and education infrastructure.
To engage voters and help them understand this complex ballot measure, GCAAR turned to the REALTOR® Party for help. A generous Issues Mobilization grant provided both polling services and funding for three strategic mailers. In mid-September, polling revealed that voters did not have strong opinions on either of the competing ballot measures. “This left us a wide berth to inform and educate voters about the issue, and explain why voting for the property tax rate solution proposed by the County Council was the right decision,” says Trupp. “We also found that, on complicated tax issues like this, voters respond to cues from area organizations and leaders.” To that end, GCAAR gathered a broad coalition of community leaders, organizations, and businesses to bolster support for the measure.
With many other groups and campaigns saturating “the digital space,” says Trupp, GCAAR decided to maximize the power of its resources by using highly targeted conventional mailers to communicate with voters, rather than ads on social media. The association and its partners are keeping members informed through multiple association newsletters, and using social media to educate followers on the issues.
“The support of the REALTOR® Party has made a big difference in our campaign,” says Trupp. “With the resources it provided, we were able to mobilize with multiple direct mail pieces – something no other group involved in this issue was able to achieve. The polling also helped us properly shape the messaging and audience universe to ensure those mailers would hit home. We greatly appreciate all the support!”
To learn more about how the Greater Capital Area Association of REALTORS® is protecting Montgomery County’s ability to provide the high level of services and amenities that define its desirable real estate market, contact Associate Government Affairs Director Zac Trupp, at 301-590-8762.