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County asks state for new taxes

March 20, 2003|By LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Washington County lawmakers made their case in Annapolis for two new local taxes Wednesday to raise up to $5 million.

Speaking at a public hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, lawmakers asked that Washington County be given state authority to tax real

estate transfers and new construction.

The proposed transfer tax would be capped at .5 percent. The proposed excise tax would be capped at $1 per square foot on new construction.

No one testified against the measure, named the "Growth Management Act of 2003."

If approved by the Maryland General Assembly and the Washington County Commissioners, the transfer tax would increase closing costs by $750 on a $150,000 house.

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At least $400,000 a year would have to be spent on agricultural land preservation.

The rest could be used for school construction, public safety, transportation and debt reduction.

The legislation also allows Washington County government to offer a property tax credit for business that renovate buildings in urban areas.

Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said Realtors and homebuilders gave their input on the tax package.

"We worked hard with the County Commissioners to come up with something they could work with," said Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Allegany/Washington.

Citizens for the Protection of Washington County and the Governor's Office of Smart Growth wrote letters of support.

If it receives approval from the committee, the legislation would go to the full House and then the Senate for approval before the session ends April 7.

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