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County won't seek new tax for fire and emergency services

October 06, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- The Washington County Commissioners reached a consensus Tuesday that they were not interested in pursuing a new tax to fund fire and emergency services.

The issue came up as the commissioners discussed potential legislative items to pursue during the 2010 session of the Maryland General Assembly.

Director of Fire and Emergency Services Kevin L. Lewis said a fire tax would help volunteer fire companies that have had to introduce paid daytime staffing because of a lack of volunteer availability. A fire tax could also help fund some capital projects related to fire and emergency services, such as construction for consolidated departments, Lewis said.

Assistant County Attorney Kirk C. Downey said the county would need legislative authority to introduce a new tax, so he had been asked to "run it up the flagpole and see if it was something you would even want to consider."

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Commissioners William J. Wivell, Terry Baker and John F. Barr said they were not interested, so Downey said he would strike the item from his list of potential legislative items.

On other potential legislative items, the commissioners said they wanted to hear more detailed proposals at next week's meeting before discussing them with the Washington County Delegation at a prelegislative session meeting scheduled for Oct. 20.

Those items included changes to the county's salary study process for certain elected officials, changes to ensure the Washington County Board of Education has an opportunity to consider comments of the School Design Advisory Board, and an exemption of agricultural tourism events from the admission and amusement tax.

Other legislative items the commissioners agreed to pursue involved requesting clarification of certain laws and updates to obsolete laws.

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