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Ehrlich signs bill allowing county to tax

May 23, 2003|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich signed legislation Thursday allowing Washington County to enact transfer and excise taxes.

The Washington County Commissioners have set a June 10 public hearing to set the rates on the new taxes.

Under a proposal tentatively approved by the commissioners, real estate transactions would be taxed at a rate of .5 percent with the first $50,000 of the selling price exempt.

People building new single-family homes would be charged an excise tax of 25 cents per square foot in fiscal 2004, which starts July 1. The tax rate would increase to 50 cents in fiscal 2005 and 75 cents in fiscal 2006.

People building other types of homes, such as duplexes or townhouses, would be charged an excise tax of $1 per square foot beginning July 1.

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The new taxes are expected to raise $2.4 million next year.

The law requires the commissioners to spend $400,000 of that on farmland preservation. The rest can be used for school construction, public safety, transportation and debt reduction.

Ehrlich also signed bills Thursday that will:

  • Increase the cost of a two-year vehicle registration from $76 to $81 in order to raise $12 million for the state's trauma network.

    The money will help cover trauma surgeons' costs for being on call and treating uninsured and underinsured patients.

    The legislation stemmed from the shutdown of the Washington County Hospital Trauma Center for four months last summer.

  • Raise the cap on Washington County Gaming Commission grants from $50,000 to $100,000 to reflect a once-a-year distribution instead of twice-a-year.

  • Allow the Washington County Commissioners to ban roadside charitable solicitations.

  • Require the Maryland Department of Mental Health and Hygiene to develop guidelines for nursing homes that elect to use electronic monitoring.

    "Vera's Law" was named after the late mother of former Washington County Del. Sue Hecht, who had championed the use of so-called "Nanny Cams."

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