Ex­cise tax re­place­ment to get hear­ing

Times-Record - - NEWS - By ABBY AN­DREWS aan­drews@car­o­line­times­record.com

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.

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