Hearing on proposed Washington County excise tax changes set for Tuesday

June 16, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The Washington County Commissioners will hold a public hearing on proposed changes to the county's excise tax ordinance on Tuesday at 4 p.m.

The hearing will be held in the commissioners' meeting room in the Washington County Administration Building at 100 W. Washington St. in Hagerstown.

Any changes to the ordinance would take effect July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

An excise tax is levied on new construction and is meant to fund infrastructure improvements to accommodate development.

The changes proposed by the Washington County Commissioners would set the tax rate at $3 per square foot for residential construction. For nonresidential construction, the rates would be $3 per square foot for retail and $1 per square foot for nonretail.

Under caps approved by the Washington County Delegation to the Maryland General Assembly, the county commissioners would be free to lower or raise those rates up to $4.50 for residential, $4 for nonresidential retail and $1.50 for nonresidential nonretail.


In addition, the proposed changes would:

· Reduce the number of nonresidential categories from five to two

· Clarify language that allows the county to double the tax on residential units when 25 building permits have been issued in one subdivision in a fiscal year

· Eliminate an exemption for the first 50,000 square feet of nonresidential additions

· Strip the commissioners of the ability to provide for additional exemptions or to waive the tax on certain nonresidential building types

· Eliminate an excise tax credit for workforce housing

The proposed changes are meant to make the tax more equitable and less susceptible to manipulation, proponents have said.

Currently, residential construction is taxed at a flat rate per dwelling unit, regardless of size.

The tax is $15,500 per unit for multifamily homes and $13,000 for single-family homes.

Under the changes, the amount of excise tax would be based on the square footage of the home.

Nonresidential construction is now divided into five categories, which some county officials have said creates confusion about how some development should be taxed.

Reducing those categories would eliminate much of the confusion, officials have said.

Several county commissioners have said the proposed rates would generate roughly the same amount of excise tax revenue as the current structure.

If you go

What: Public hearing on proposed changes to the county's excise tax ordinance

When: Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Where: Washington County Commissioners' meeting room in the Washington County Administration Building, 100 W. Washington St., Hagerstown

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