Kercheval suggests excise-tax revamp

January 25, 2007|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

ANNAPOLIS - Because Washington County pays more for new schools than it takes in from new single-family homes, it might revamp its excise-tax structure, Commissioner James F. Kercheval suggested Wednesday.

During a meeting in Annapolis with Washington County's delegation to the Maryland General Assembly, Kercheval showed rough calculations of how current excise-tax revenue added to state funding still falls short of school construction costs.

Kercheval said the commissioners could switch to a graduated excise tax on new construction instead of the current charges: $13,000 for a single-family home and $15,500 per unit for multi-family homes.

Under a graduated system, the excise tax might be greater than $13,000 for larger single-family homes and less than $13,000 for smaller homes.


Kercheval, who didn't include school operating costs in his analysis, said a new excise-tax scale is one of several ideas for fixing the imbalance created by single-family homes.

He said that if a bill were passed to remove the current excise-tax cap, the commissioners would work with the delegation on an acceptable new structure. It might need to be addressed this year, he told the delegation.

Although Kercheval and Commissioners President John F. Barr met with the delegation to present legislative priorities, the excise-tax idea was just a discussion and not a request for legislation, Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., the delegation chairman, said Wednesday night.

In a phone interview, Commissioner William J. Wivell said when Kercheval shared his idea with the commissioners Tuesday, they didn't agree to ask for legislation to lift the current excise-tax cap.

The county's plan for a central booking facility for police also was on the legislative list that Kercheval, Barr and other county officials presented to the delegation Wednesday.

Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposed fiscal 2008 budget includes $1.4 million for the facility. The county would match that amount.

Other priorities for the county include changing the law so county employees can write civil citations for trade and building code infractions, and getting the authority to issue $80 million of bonds in the next four years to finance construction costs.

The delegation did not vote on any of the county's requests.

County's legislative list

Items on Washington County's list of priorities for the 2007 Maryland General Assembly session:

· Making sure there is state funding for a central booking facility

· Legislation to clarify and amend regulations for fire police

· Discussing how to make sure Washington County's prevailing wage is accurate

· Legislation to let the county issue civil citations for infractions of trade and building codes instead of filing criminal charges

· Legislation to authorize the county to issue $80 million in bonds over the next four years for construction projects

· Authorization to publish and legalize a current edition of local laws

· Discussion of possible changes to the excise tax

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