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Commissioners discuss stimulus plan but postpone vote

Plan aims to encourage residential construction through excise tax credits

Plan aims to encourage residential construction through excise tax credits

October 06, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- The Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday discussed details of a proposed local stimulus program to encourage residential construction, but they decided to postpone a vote on the program until a future meeting.

Washington County Director of Permits and Inspections Daniel F. DiVito presented a proposal for a short-term program that would offer builders a credit for a portion of the excise tax due on some types of residential construction and a waiver of building permit fees. The goal of the program would be to encourage new home and addition construction, which could increase employment in the county, DiVito said.

DiVito suggested offering a credit equal to the excise tax on up to 3,000 square feet, which would amount to $9,000 on new construction or $4,500 on an addition to an existing home. Commissioner James F. Kercheval suggested lowering that measure to 2,500 square feet. If a home or addition was larger than that size, the builder would owe excise tax on the additional square footage, DiVito said.

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Kercheval also suggested cutting permit fees in half instead of waiving them altogether, except for energy-efficiency improvements, which would qualify to have the permit fees waived completely.

The commissioners discussed having the incentives apply to residential construction, excluding mobile homes, modular homes and apartment buildings. To ensure the construction was started quickly, the incentive would only apply to projects with permits issued by Feb. 1, a framing inspection completed within six months, and a use and occupancy permit issued within 18 months.

The commissioners also discussed limiting the incentive to six homes per builder and capping the amount of credits that would be issued to 150,000 square feet, with extensions possible after a review of how the program is working.

The proposal seemed to have support from a majority of the commissioners, with Kercheval, Terry Baker and John F. Barr expressing their support, but the commissioners decided to postpone their vote after county attorneys said they wanted to discuss a possible legal issue first.

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