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Commissioners to discuss excise, transfer taxes

May 06, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Commissioners will discuss a recommendation today to set transfer and excise tax rates that would generate $2.4 million a year through fiscal year 2009.

The Maryland General Assembly last month gave the County Commissioners the authority to implement the taxes on real estate transactions and new construction.

The state law requires that $400,000 of the excise tax revenue go toward agricultural land preservation.

The remaining $2 million may be used for school construction, public safety, transportation and debt reduction.

The law allows the commissioners to charge a transfer tax on real estate transactions of up to .5 percent. An excise tax would be limited to $1 per square foot on new construction.

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Depending on the rate, the transfer tax would increase closing costs by as much as $750 on a $150,000 house. It would add $2,000 to the cost of building a 2,000-square-foot house.

An excise tax would allow the county to charge differing rates per square foot based on construction type, such as residential or commercial construction. The county also would be able to charge rates per square foot based on residential housing type and zoning classification.

Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell said Monday the commissioners will discuss the rates today. The discussion is scheduled for 10:50 a.m. at the County Administration Building, 100 W. Washington St., Room 226.

It's possible the commissioners also will set tentative rates today, which would then be taken to a public hearing on June 10, according to a county document.

Commissioner John C. Munson, who had previously said he didn't support the taxes, said Monday he hasn't yet made up his mind on whether he would vote to impose them.

"I got to kick it around some more," Munson said. "It's a hard decision to make. My question is, why enact it? (County government) will just come up with more ways to spend the money. Stop spending."

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