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Delegation hears Washington County's legislative wish list

New excise-tax structure proposed

New excise-tax structure proposed

November 28, 2007|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY - A new excise-tax structure is part of a 2008 legislative wish list the Washington County Commissioners presented to their state representatives Tuesday.

The commissioners also asked state lawmakers to monitor a new fund to help the Chesapeake Bay and to increase the $25,000 threshold when county contracts are put out to bid.

Other requests were relatively minor, such as prohibiting certain commercial vehicles from being parked on county roads.

If the county adopted home rule, the commissioners could handle smaller issues themselves, cutting a big chunk from their legislative package, Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, said at the meeting.

The excise-tax change is a continuation of a bill that passed in the 2007 regular session, allowing the commissioners to remove the cap on their excise tax on new construction. The bill required the county to come back with a plan for switching from a flat-rate tax to one based on square footage.

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The commissioners have proposed a rate of $3 per square foot for residential construction. For nonresidential buildings, they recommended square-foot rates of $3 for retail and $1 for nonretail.

Commissioners told state lawmakers Tuesday that they would like a tax-rate range that they could change as needed.

Delegation members asked county officials to put together draft bills soon - "the sooner the better," said Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany, the delegation chairman.

The 2008 General Assembly session starts in January.

Commissioners also asked the delegation to be "mindful" of how dead bodies are picked up in the county and taken to the state medical examiner's office.

A quarrel over the level of reimbursement for the service prompted a local company to quit, forcing the state to find another provider. Officials said Tuesday that the quality of the service has become an issue since then.

A bill Myers sponsored to raise the reimbursement rate passed the House, but not the Senate.

Additional items on the commissioners' legislative agenda focus on tip-jar gambling regulations, sidewalk maintenance and notifying government departments about large special events.




Upcoming delegation meetings



Upcoming public sessions with Washington County's delegation to the Maryland General Assembly:

· Friday, 10 a.m., meeting with Hagerstown Community College's board of trustees, at HCC's College Center

· Dec. 12, 7:30 a.m., forum with Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, at Plaza Hotel in Halfway

· Dec. 14, meeting with Hagerstown's mayor and city council, time to be decided, at Hagerstown City Hall

· Jan. 5, 2008, 10 a.m., pre-legislative public forum, at South Hagerstown High School

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