County Comment: Commissioners Extend Housing Stimulus Pla

CAP: Commissioner John Barr congratulates Benjamin Hainke, Construction Inspector in the Division of Public Works in recognition of having earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Frostburg State University

County Comment
Commissioners Extend Housing Stimulus Plan
By Norman Bassett, Public Information Officer
Washington County, Maryland

In its regular meeting on January 19th, the Washington County Board of County Commissioners approved extending a popular stimulus plan that is helping reduce unemployment.
Permits and Inspections Director Dan DiVito reported told the Board on success of the plan, in suited last October, which provides excise tax, permit fee and recordation tax breaks to those building new homes, making additions to homes, and installing energy-efficient appliances, or solar or geothermal heat systems during remodeling or building.
DiVito told the Board that to date, permits for 37 new homes had been issued, alongside those for 35 additions and 14 energy-efficient systems, with another 10 new units expected to be permitted this week. Records for the same period one year ago showed only 14 permits for new residential units.
The Original plan called for $500,000 in previously set-aside funding to be used to offset any losses from the program, which allowed for building permits on 150,000 square feet. The permits were to be applied for no later than February 1st, with framing inspections due within 6 months. Total for the program so far is about $250,000, with just over 107,000 square feet used.
DiVito suggested extending the time period until the original square footage allotment was used up, or making additional time and square footage available. In Tuesday's meeting, the time period was extended until April 1st and an extra 50,000 square feet was allotted. All other conditions remain the same.
Under the original plan, those wishing to build or renovate one or two-family homes or condominiums are able to receive the credits of up to $9,000.00 for projects that reach framing stage within 6 months of permit issue and completion within 18 months.
Building permits, normally about $1,000 per new home, are reduced by 50%. Permit fees for energy efficient improvements such as water heaters, furnaces, air conditioning systems, doors and windows have been eliminated during the period. Alternative energy systems like solar panels, wind and geothermal systems are also included.
Buyers' portions of recordation taxes on up to $200,000 of a home's value are waived, in an amount up to $760.00
The Commissioners' original intent was to improve employment in the County by assisting the struggling building industry, contractors and sub-contractors, and give consumers breaks as well.