Delegation to meet with public

December 14, 2000

Delegation to meet with public

By LAURA ERNDE / Staff Writer

County residents will have a chance to share their views with Washington County lawmakers Saturday on a variety of issues, including a controversial real estate transfer tax.

The annual public hearing of the Washington County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly will be held from 10 a.m. to noon in the auditorium at South Hagerstown High School.

"We would love to have comment on the transfer tax. We would love to hear from the citizens," said Delegation Chairman Del. Bob McKee, R-Washington.

The Washington County Commissioners are asking the delegation for state authority to add a 1 percent tax to the purchase of a home or business. The tax would be in adddition to the half-percent transfer tax already charged by the state.


The county would use the money to renovate schools and preserve farmland.

Seventeen of Maryland's 23 counties already impose a local transfer tax.

The proposal has been met with opposition from Realtors, who argue it would increase closing costs for home buyers.

The delegation must decide whether to support state enabling legislation in the upcoming legislative session, which runs from mid-January to mid-April.

Residents can comment on the transfer tax or any other state issue at the hearing, McKee said.

State funding for private schools is likely to come up again this session, McKee said. Gov. Parris Glendening, who put $6 million in this year's budget to buy textbooks for private schools, is expected to ask for slightly more in next year's budget.

McKee said he supported the request last year as a one-time aid, but plans to oppose it this year because he believes the state isn't spending enough money on public schools.

The public also can comment on local community projects. Local government officials and business leaders want lawmakers to help secure state funding for a Civil War museum, the University System of Maryland Education Center at Hagerstown and open space improvements in downtown Hagerstown.

Seven members of the local delegation are expected to attend the public hearing, McKee said. Del. Sue Hecht, D-Frederick/Washington, cannot attend.

Lawmakers also take comment from the public throughout the 90-day session through letters, phone calls and visits to Annapolis. After Jan. 10, the Washington County delegation can be reached at 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3447.

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