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Washington County's legislative wishes listed

September 26, 2000

Washington County's legislative wishes listed



Following is a list of items the Washington County Commissioners may place on the wish list they'll present to the local delegation to the Maryland General Assembly for the 2001 session:

-- Get state authority to impose a county transfer tax, which would piggyback onto the state transfer tax. The county considered imposing the tax this year but realized it didn't have the needed state authority.

-- Allow the clerk of Washington County Circuit Court to waive or reduce fees for collections. This would enable the court to waive fees for the transfer tax.

-- Restore a portion of state property tax to local subdivisions. From 1967 through the early 1990s the state gave to counties grants that were equivalent to a portion of the tax on real property.

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-- Authorize the county to maintain a "rainy day" fund , cash reserves to prepare for hard economic times or unforeseen special needs. The county does not have that authority, although some counties do.

-- Remove a state mandate requiring the county to spend $500,000 in general fund contributions on water, sewer and pretreatment debt. The county says the law reduces the county's financial flexibility.

-- Reinstate a statute allowing the county to continue receiving a 5 percent administrative fee to cover the cost of administering the funds from the hotel-motel tax on behalf of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The fee was deleted, for unknown reasons, during the last legislative session.

-- Increase the marriage license fee, which is now $60. The proposal does not suggest a new amount.

-- Seek more state funds to aid county agricultural preservation efforts.

-- Broaden the reach of the enabling law for the animal control ordinance, with possible changes to include the ability to impose criminal as well as civil penalties.

-- Increase the salary of the county sheriff to an undetermined amount. The salary was last raised in 1997, from $42,500 to $55,000.

-- Exempt, for security reasons, competitive bidding for equipment for undercover operations.

-- Allow shows, sales and exhibitions in a tent in a shopping center. The request was made by Prime Retail so it could hold events in its parking lots.

-- Seek state funds for the extension of the Hagerstown Regional Airport runway and costs associated with building two adjacent underpasses where U.S. 11 would go under the runway,

-- Pursue a $2 million subsidy for scheduled commercial service from Hagerstown and two other rural airports to Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

In April, the General Assembly voted to provide $1 million this fiscal year to subsidize commuter air service between BWI and three rural airports: Hagerstown Regional Airport, Greater Cumberland Regional Airport and St. Mary's County Airport in Leonardtown.

The request is for a second year of funding.

-- Seek an appropriation to assist Maryland airports in marketing and other programs with state money matching local funds.

A 16th proposal, to get state authority to impose a county fire tax - was removed from the list of possible requests.

Source: County Attorney Richard Douglas.

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