Excise tax replacement to get hearing
DENTON — The Caroline County commissioners at their meeting Tuesday, Sept. 25, voted to repeal an excise tax on residential development, but held off on enacting the impact fee proposed to replace it, pending further possible amendments.
The commissioners did approve several amendments to the impact fee bill at the Sept. 25 meeting, mostly to add clarity or clean up wordings, which kept the bill alive for a fourth reading.
Though one public hearing on the bill was already held Sept. 11, another has been scheduled during the commissioners’ meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, in the meeting room in the Caroline County Circuit Courthouse at 109 Market St.
Before the excise tax was repealed, the county collected it when a lot was created, not when a structure was built.
The impact fee proposed to replace that tax would be $5,000, same as the tax, but would allow the county to bill all new residential construction, including multi-unit buildings, in both incorporated and unincorporated areas, more uniformly and fairly, county staff said.
Specifically, the impact fee is intended to help pay for new school construction, staff said.
After approving 10 amendments to the bill, commissioners discussed Commissioner Dan Franklin’s proposal to amend the bill to waive impact fees on all gifts of land to a child or grandchild.
Currently, the bill only waives the fee if the gifted lot is coming from a farm, defined as a parcel of at least 20 acres.
Acting County Administrator Sara Visintainer said legally, the county has to show rationale for waiving the impact fee for any landowner; in this case, Caroline County is a right-to-farm county, and allowing farmers to give a lot to a child or grandchild to build a house encourages keeping the farm in the family.
Further, a farm is already defined as a parcel of at least 20 acres consistently throughout the county’s annotated code, Visintainer said.
Franklin asked staff to research where the 20-acre minimum in the code came from, specifically if it came from a state law.
Commissioners agreed to further discuss the possible amendment at their next work session.