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The property tax shuffle (access required)

One of the top questions in this year’s mayoral race is how to lower the city’s residential property tax rate, the highest in Maryland at $2.268 per $100 of assessed value. All of the candidates have a plan. And those plans are repeatedly bashed on the campaign trail by the candidates in a round robin game that resembles something out of the grade-school playground. It’s enough to make the average voter want to cringe in confusion. Most say they want the tax rate lowered so they can afford to remain in Baltimore, but it’s hard to figure out which plan is best without wiping out basic services. Enter the Maryland Public Policy Institute. On Sept. 7, the nonprofit group is holding a free public forum on lowering the property tax rate from 1:30 to 3: 30 p.m. at the tony Center Club at 100 Light St. All candidates will be there to explain their plan and debate the issue. Except for one: Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. And her upcoming absence has created quite a stir.