County coun­cil ap­proves sprin­kler tax credit

Dorchester Star - - Regional - By VIC­TO­RIA WINGATE vwingate@ches­pub.com Fol­low me on Twit­ter @ vic­to­ri­adorstar and on In­sta­gram @dorch­ester.star.

CAM­BRIDGE — The Dorch­ester County Coun­cil ap­proved a tax credit for res­i­den­tial sprin­kler sys­tems at the reg­u­lar ses­sion meet­ing on Tuesday, July 6.

The tax credit of up to $5,000 will aid new home­own­ers with the fi­nan­cial bur­den in­curred by the state man­dated re­quire­ment for fire pro­tec­tion sprin­kler sys­tems in new res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties.

Homes con­structed be­tween July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2019 with a com­plete au­to­matic fire pro­tec­tion sprin­kler sys­tem will be el­i­gi­ble to re­ceive the credit against the prop­erty taxes.

“A tax credit for newly con­structed homes with sprin­klers would be ex­tremely help­ful to buy­ers,” said Joan Strang, Vice Pres­i­dent of Govern­ment Af­fairs for the Mary­land Build­ing In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion. “This tax would help us to come back and pro­vide hous­ing for first-time home­buy­ers who have been closed out of the build­ing in­dustr y since the re­quire­ment is now that we must in­stall sprin­klers in new con­struc­tion.”

Mar yland’s fire sprin­kler man­date be­came an is­sue that sev­eral East­ern Shore law­mak­ers eyed dur­ing the 2016 Mar yland Gen­eral As­sem­bly. As of July 1, all new one- and two-fam­ily res­i­den­tial homes built in Mary­land must have fire sprin­klers in­stalled.

Del. Christo­pher Adams, R-37BWi­comico, filed a bill that would have al­lowed coun­ties to opt out of the man­date, but the bill was de­feated af­ter fire­fight­ing pro­fes­sion­als around the state heav­ily lob­bied against it.

Adams ar­gued the man­date was costly for ru­ral ar­eas with no pub­lic wa­ter ac­cess where homes rely on wells. But those against Adams’ bill said fire sprin­klers are nec­es­sary to save lives in the event of a fire.

“The cost is more than most first-time home­buy­ers can af­ford,” Strang said. “This tax credit would help them tremen­dously and give us an op­por­tu­nity to hope­fully turn around this re­ces­sion and bring the build­ing in­dus­try back in Dorch­ester County.”

Hav­ing been a fire­fighter, coun­cil­man Don Sat­ter­field spoke to both sides of the res­i­den­tial sprin­kler re­quire­ment, un­der­stand­ing the im­por­tance of both of­fi­cer safety and the cost of these sys­tems to home­own­ers.

“Hav­ing the abil­ity to pro­vide the tax credit for cit­i­zens who are first-time home­builders is al­most a must for us in Dorch­ester County,” Sat­ter­field said.

“Any time govern­ment at any level can lower the tax bur­den on peo­ple, es­pe­cially that want to build new homes, it’s a good thing,” said Coun­cil­man Rick Price.

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