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Washington County Commissioners candidates Q&A Part 1

August 21, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS
(Page 5 of 6)

Vindivich: There has been very little growth due the current recession. I would work closely with the Economic Development Commission on ways to attract new higher paying jobs in Biotech, Green Technology, Health Care and Specialized Manufacturing Industries. We need to visit what current policies, restrictions or barriers might inhibit our efforts to attract new businesses. We could survey, evaluate and plan on how we can contribute to partner with viable companies ... to focus on what's working and what needs improving. We can encourage the county Economic Development Commission to focus on bridging new relationships with foreign investment markets such as China, Japan and South Korea.

Wivell: Growth is best managed through County Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance and through development of comprehensive capacity management plans. I also believe in protecting private property rights and our quality of life; accordingly, the rural character of the County is best preserved through the development of programs to compensate landowners that coincides with the purchase of permanent agricultural land easements (Bonus Density or TDR program). Now is the time to implement such programs as the County rezones the Urban Growth Area. Preservation of agricultural lands and the economic viability of the agriculture industry is vital to maintain our quality of life.

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Question: Do you support an excise tax for new development? Explain.

Baker: I do support an excise tax but I think our current system is not fair. If you build a new home you will be charged an APFO fee of approximately $7500 because of the impact on our schools and roads. Buy an existing home, move in from another State with children impacting our schools and they pay no fee. I also believe the fee is more appropriate during high growth periods when large developments impact the need and schedule for school construction.

Barr: I have not been a fan of the excise tax. On many fronts particularly residential it is counterproductive and unfair to new home builders and buyers. Mandates such as excise tax combined with other local and state mandates are crippling our home building industry. Citizens are finding it more economical to go a few miles north or south to avoid these mandates. These fees arbitrarily are paid in the early stages of development, having interest, carrying charges, compounding and are subjected to commissions and sales fees at the time of closure. An increase in transfer taxes would (have) fairer consequences.

Callaham: Development equals growth and generates revenue for services. The excise tax is one way to capture revenue from development. I support the fact that new development must help pay for the increase in infrastructure necessary to support the development. I encourage innovative ways to capture revenue by balancing the requirements of government planners, developers, expansion of businesses and individual citizens.

Cline: I would recommend gradually reducing the Excise Tax over a period of time to a more acceptable level. Transfer taxes, recordation taxes, MDE & EPA regulations, APFO and Excise taxes are making it almost impossible for a new home to be built in Washington County. It has been estimated there are over $20,000 in taxes and fees on a new home to be paid before the contractor breaks ground. Fewer fees and taxes make it more attractive to build your dream home in one of our neighboring states, resulting in the loss of jobs and long term revenue due to the loss of property taxes.

Frazee: I do not support an excise tax for new development. Excise tax for new development only means that the cost of new development is going to increase and the end-all user (consumer) is going to pay more in the purchasing price. Why would any kind of developer come to Washington County if we are going to add an excise tax and cause them to increase cost, making it harder for them to sell and even harder for the consumer to buy?

Henson: We need to be thankful for all new jobs in the county, including blue collar jobs. We are a well developed area and it seems our citizens have to drive toward Washington, D.C. for the white collar jobs. What does Montgomery County have that we don't?

McKinley: I think that the excise tax which is really an impact fee should be scaled to fit construction levels and current economic situations. In this "down economy" little impact is being made on roads, schools etc. by new building starts. I would be in favor of eliminating this tax for now, providing incentive to buyers and reinstating the tax, if we must, as construction increases and causes "impact".We also need to examine other areas to see if there is a better way to manage "impact" without raising taxes. I support impact fees reluctantly, but prefer them to raising taxes for everyone.

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