Delegation Chairman Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, said delegation members wouldn't agree to that.
Since county officials approached the delegation about exempting new businesses, Del. LeRoy E. Myers, R-Washington/Allegany, has contended that such a policy punishes existing businesses and discourages them from expanding. The delegation agreed to permitting exemptions to encourage new business on the condition that expanding businesses be exempted as well - unless the expansion would double the size of existing facilities.
Last week, County Administrator Rodney M. Shoop wrote to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee with concerns about the bill, which had been approved by the House.
The letter said the exemption for existing businesses limited the county's ability to charge the tax, and that the bill's "current language allows for a nonresidential building to expand via phased construction without being subject to the tax."
Shank recommended limiting the exemption to expansions of 50,000 square feet or less, and county officials agreed. Shank presented the amended bill Monday.
On Tuesday, Douglas wrote to ask that retail businesses be excluded completely, "for the reason that retail operations generate greater traffic and burdens on the infrastructure and tend to pay lower wages than other types of nonresidential construction."
But Shank said leaving retailers out would penalize small "mom and pop" operations that wanted to expand. He noted that the county already charges excise taxes at a higher rate on retail business than other commercial development, charging $3 to $4 per square foot as opposed to 20 cents to $3 per square foot for other businesses.
House bill 1407