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Hotel tax in Senate limbo

April 04, 2000|By LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - Washington County's hotel tax proposal got a smooth reception at a Senate committee hearing Tuesday.

But it's uncertain what might happen when members of the Budget and Taxation Committee learn that Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, opposes the tax.

On local bills, the Senate needs to see the support of a majority of local senators.

Washington County's senators are split. Mooney is against it while Sen. Donald F. Munson favors doubling the tax to 6 percent.

"I would think being the resident senator and a senior member of the committee counts for something," said Munson, R-Washington.

Mooney said he didn't testify against the bill because he didn't think his opposition would kill the bill. But at the committee's request, he is writing a letter stating his opposition.

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That appears to differ from the testimony of Delegation Chairman Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, the only witness at the hearing.

When asked if the senators support the tax increase, McKee answered yes.

Local lawmakers thought Mooney would not take a position on the tax, although he voted against it at a delegation meeting, Munson later said.

Sen. Martin G. Madden, R-Howard/Prince George's, declared Munson the chairman of the Washington County Senatorial Delegation.

Munson said that was news to him, but he would accept the title if necessary.

Senatorial opposition killed a proposed Frederick County hotel tax this session. Both Mooney and Sen. Timothy Ferguson, R-Frederick/Carroll, voted against the tax.

Ferguson brought a panel and testified against it before the Budget and Taxation Committee.

Washington County's hotel tax proposal has cleared the House and needs Senate approval before the session ends April 10.

A committee vote on the hotel tax proposal has not been scheduled.

The Washington County Delegation's water and sewer debt reduction plan is contingent upon the tax increase.

The money raised would help offset the Washington County Commissioners' annual contributions to debt relief.

It would also raise an estimated $300,000 a year for tourism and economic development projects chosen by the County Commissioners.

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