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Washington County to extend stimulus program

The first $9,000 of excise tax on a residential building-permit application is waived, and each home builder will be allowed a maximum of 30 qualifying residential units

May 22, 2012|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com

Washington County is again extending a stimulus program for the construction of new homes.

The Washington County Board of Commissioners agreed on Tuesday to continue the program for 12 more months past its expiration date of June 30, 2012.

Under the program, the first $9,000 of excise tax on a residential building-permit application is waived, and each home builder will be allowed a maximum of 30 qualifying residential units.

A memorandum from Jennifer M. Smith, the director of the county Division of Plan Review and Permitting, said the commissioners agreed in February 2011 to start the stimulus program “to address high unemployment in the County by providing an incentive to new construction.”

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According to the memo, 269 permits with excise-tax credits under the program were issued from March 2011 to April 2012. The credited excise-tax amount was about $1.13 million, or 78 percent of the excise tax due to the county during that period, the memo said.

Smith wrote that the program “has likely increased the number of residential construction projects permitted in the County during this time period. In addition, the program has likely prevented additional losses of employment for workers in the residential construction industry.”

Some home builders sat in the audience during the discussion, but didn’t speak.

A written summary of the program estimates that 151 new homes constructed under the 2011 stimulus program, if sold for $250,000 each, would generate about $360,000 a year in property-tax revenue.

Quoting the Home Builders Association of Washington County, the summary said as many as 65 people might work directly on the construction of a home.

The commissioners agreed in February 2011 to extend a similar program that was in place the previous year.

Under the new terms, a home builder was allowed a maximum excise-tax credit of $9,000 for permits applied for and issued from March 1, 2011, to Oct. 31, 2011. The builder could get up to six permits under the program.

In September 2011, the commissioners extended the program to June 30, 2012, and allowed six more permits, for a total of 12 per builder.

In March 2012, the commissioners approved another six permits per builder, for a total of 18.

The new limit, as approved on Tuesday, is 30 per builder.

Commissioner Ruth Anne Callaham initially made a motion to extend the program by six months and increase the limit per developer by six, for a total of 24.

At the suggestion of Commissioner William McKinley, Callaham amended her motion to extend the program by 12 months and increase the limit on permits to 30.

The five commissioners unanimously approved the changes.

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