Sales tax increase 'just not going to go,' delegate says

July 28, 2000

Sales tax increase 'just not going to go,' delegate says

By SCOTT BUTT / Staff Writer

Delegate Sue Hecht, D-Frederick/Washington, dismissed as unrealistic a renewed effort by Washington County Commissioner Paul L. Swartz to increase the sales tax in the county or statewide.

The exchange came during a joint meeting Friday of the County Commissioners and the local delegation of the Maryland General Assembly.

"It is just not going to go," Hecht said. "Even if we (the delegation) were 100 percent on board it just would not go," she said.

Hecht asked Swartz if House Speaker Casper Taylor Jr. can't get a sales tax increase, what made Swartz think the delegation could.


"I'm just going to give you a reality check," she said.

Delegate Louise Snodgrass, R-Frederick/Washington, and Sen. Don Munson,R-Washington, agreed.

"You need to be more creative," Snodgrass said.

Last year Swartz tried to increase the sales tax in Washington County from 5 cents to 6 cents per dollar to pay off the $52.3 million Washington County water and sewer debt.

Members of the local delegation to the Maryland General Assembly said they didn't like the idea, and the County Commissioners voted 4-1 not to pursue it further.

Swartz said after the meeting that he would continue to push for the sales tax increase despite the comments by delegation members.

Hecht suggested the county consider a transfer tax instead. County Commissioner Bert L. Iseminger said that will be on the county's list of legislative requests.

The county wanted the option of using that tax this year, but didn't have state authorization, he said. The commissioners will ask for legislation granting that authority, Iseminger said.

The tax considered this year would have required people to pay 1 percent of the total value of real property transactions. That is in addition to a .5 percent transfer tax imposed by the state government.

During the joint meeting, the commissioners and delegation members also discussed state funding for education and the proposed expansion of an airport runway, which would require changes to U.S. 11.

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