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Bill to change tip jar formula stalled

April 06, 2000|By LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - A Senate committee postponed a vote Wednesday on changes to Washington County's tip jar gambling law.

Judicial Proceedings Committee Chairman Sen. Walter M. Baker had a technical question about the bill.

Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, tried unsuccessfully to answer the question, and then suggested the vote be delayed for a day.

Mooney said he thinks the bill will clear his committee today with no problem.

The bill would change the distribution formula for tip jar gambling profits, with half going to the Washington County Fire and Rescue Association and half to charities. Right now it's a 60-40 split.

The change would free up about $250,000 for water and sewer debt reduction.

The Washington County Delegation's three-bill debt reduction package has been approved by the House, but has to clear the Senate before the legislative session ends at midnight Monday.

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By doubling the hotel tax to 6 percent, the delegation hopes to raise another $250,000 for debt relief.

The hotel tax increase would also raise about $300,000 for the Washington County Commissioners to spend on economic development and tourism projects, which could include funding a stadium.

The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee has not scheduled a vote on the tax increase.

Mooney wrote a letter to the committee, saying he voted against the tax increase at a delegation meeting.

In a similar letter he wrote about a proposed Frederick County tax, Mooney used stronger language.

"I am opposed to this new tax. A hotel/motel tax penalizes the hotel/motel industry inequitably and assumes that this is the only, or easiest, source for such income for Frederick County," said that letter, which helped to kill that tax for Frederick County.

A hearing is set for today on the third part of the plan, which sets up the debt reduction plan.

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