County Comment: Commissioners Name Excise Tax Panel

County Comment
Commissioners Name Excise Tax Panel
By Norman Bassett
Washington County Public Information Officer

A Task Force of 13 Washington County citizens will begin meeting this summer to give input and advise to the Boards of County Commissioners ion the structure and implementation of excise taxes on new construction.
In its regular meeting on June 19th, the Commissioners appointed 11 of the 13 members. The Board of Education and the Maryland Municipal League local chapter will make nominations to the Commissioners at a later date.
House Bill 1355, passed this spring, allowed limitations on the County's excise tax cap to be lifted for Fiscal Year 2008, and allowed excise taxes to be based on square footage of a proposed dwelling or commercial building. Taxes on residential facilities could be imposed on a graduated scale. That Bill also required that the Commissioners appoint a task force to make recommendations on the building tax rate and structure for residential development.
The Excise Tax Task Force would provide those recommendations to the Commissioners by September 30th.
Representation was chosen from a broad range of stakeholders. The 13-member committee would include 1 representative from each of 10 categories of interest, including the Economic Development Community, Builders, Realtors, Non-Profit Builders, Homeowners, the Maryland Municipal League local chapter, Lenders, Urban Redevelopers, a Land Attorney, and a member of the Local Delegation to the General Assembly. In addition there would be 2 At-Large members from the citizenry.
Appointed to the Task Force on June 19th were: Edward Forrest as a homeowner; Brian Lautenslager as Home Builders representative; Mike Deming representing Urban Redevelopment; John Schnebly as Economic Development representative; Frank Erck as Banking representative; Jason Divelbiss, Land Use Attorney; Tamara Austerman, Realtor representative; Ivory Mann and Keith Scheer as citizens-at-large; and Leroy Myers as Delegates' representative. Those appointments were approved by unanimous vote, with a tentative approval of John Schnebly as Chair.
Actual charges and duties would be deferred until the Board of Education and Municipality members were approved.
Information would be needed from Planning and Permits and Inspections Departments as to methods that would work to solve some of the problems of imposing excise taxes. The Task Force would be asked to develop ideas that staff can implement quickly and efficiently.
Meetings of the group are expected to be scheduled soon, and will continue through the summer months.