Holes in economist’s recommendations
Even though the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners praised its economic consultant’s recommendations for promoting economic growth in the county from 2017 through 2022, the report suffered from two weaknesses.
The first was an overestimate of the benefits of Dominion taxes for the county. The report said that “the tax revenue implications [of Dominion taxes] are simply massive.” According to County Administrator Terry Shannon, most of the $25 million Dominion paid this year was absorbed by payment of $21 million into county retirement benefits. The BOCC deserves credit for funding this vital protection of retirees’ benefits, but this also left very little for the recommended “massive incentives” for agribusiness.
Another problem is that the BOCC granted Dominion a fixed schedule of real estate tax payments through 2023 that is proba- bly lower than it would have been without a PILOT. That agreement granted Dominion a 42 percent reduction in taxes from 2024 to 2032, averaging $40 million a year. This credit was negotiated by former commissioner, now delegate, Gerald W. “Jerry” Clark (R-Calvert, St. Mary’s). Given that Dominion had no other option for making liquefied natural gas exports, that large a concession was not necessary. Without that credit, a lot more funds would be available to promote agribusiness and meet future county needs.
The second weakness is the recommended “radical acceleration” in development of town centers without mentioning Lusby and making only passing mention of Solomons. Lusby has long been ignored by the BOCC. We in southern Calvert need the recreational and commercial development in the report. Yet “Mt. Gott” (a large mound of soil in the middle of the town center) remains a tribute to this neglect. The BOCC’s vote to prevent the Chesapeake Ranch Estates from voting on whether to form a new municipality was another disincentive for developing this town center.
Finally, the report made a sweeping statement that “there is a paucity of developable commercial land” in the county, even though the large plot of land that surrounds Mt. Gott remains available, as is the Patuxent Business Park. Furthermore, Dominion will soon be leaving Offsite Area A at Cove Point Road and Route 2/4. Ironically, the BOCC lacks funds to develop this site in part because of tax concessions it granted to Dominion.
If the BOCC was truly committed to the consultant’s recommendation to accelerate growth in town centers, it would start working with the local community to promote needed development in Lusby.
Len Zuza, Solomons