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Excise tax issue to be explored by county panel

May 30, 2007|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY - A task force recommending a new Washington County excise-tax structure will have 13 members representing various interests, county commissioners decided Tuesday.

The task force, according to a bill the Maryland General Assembly approved this year, must make a recommendation by Sept. 30.

In the meantime, the Washington County Commissioners may change the tax on their own starting July 1, when the law takes effect, said Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany, the chairman of the county's General Assembly delegation.

The law removes the county's excise-tax cap on new residential construction from July 1, 2007, to June 30, 2008.

The current fee for subdivisions of 25 units or fewer is $13,000 for a single-family home and $15,500 per unit for multifamily homes. The fees double for subdivisions of more than 25 units.

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The nonresidential excise tax also may be changed, according to a legislative analysis of the bill.

The task force will review the current system and commissioners' changes, if any, then make a report, Myers said. Based on the report, the delegation might submit a bill during the 2008 General Assembly session for a permanent change.

The commissioners had different interpretations of the bill on Tuesday when they met at Washington County Technical High School.

Commissioner William J. Wivell said the commissioners would change the excise tax, then the task force would issue a report.

But Commissioner James F. Kercheval said the intent was for the task force to act first.

Pointing out the Sept. 30 deadline, Commissioners President John F. Barr urged his colleagues to act soon.

Commissioner Kristin B. Aleshire said the commissioners should pick people for the task force at their June 12 meeting.

On Tuesday, the commissioners decided that the following groups should be represented on the task force:

· Someone in the economic development field

· The Washington County Home Builders Association

· A real estate agent

· A nonprofit building organization, such as Habitat for Humanity or Interfaith Housing Alliance

· The county's General Assembly delegation

· A homeowner

· A lending agency

· An urban developer

· A local municipal official

· A land attorney

There also will be a chairman and two at-large members, for a total of 13 people.

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