Council Trashes Tax Increase

Recording Fee Was To Pay For Recycling Center

May 19, 1991|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff writer

The County Council on Tuesday shot down County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann's plan to raise a tax paid by homebuyers recording mortgages to help pay for a new trash recycling center.

The council voted 6-0 against the tax increase. Members said they want the county to finish its countywide trash recycling plan before money is allocated for specific proposals.

"I think we're putting the cart before the horse," said Councilwoman Susan B. Heselton, R-District A. "I don't think this is an appropriate time to put this tax on."

Rehrmann proposed raising the tax,called the recordation tax, by 41 cents per $500 of mortgage, to $3.71 per $500 of mortgage.

During a council hearing on the proposal before the council vote, three citizens, a Realtor and a homebuilder opposed the proposal.

Joan Ryder, spokeswoman for the county Association of Realtors, told the council that an increase in the recordation tax would drive up closing costs for homebuyers.

Bel Air homebuilder H. Carl Stephen said, "Every little increase in the cost of buying a home makes some unable to buy a home."

Deborah Hutson of Kingsville said homebuyers should not face higher closing costs to pay for recycling programs that will benefit all county residents.

"I understand the need for recycling," she said. "I understand the need for landfills. But I think all the people in the county are willing to chip in."

The recordation tax increase was expected to generate $261,000 in revenue during fiscal 1992, County Treasurer James M. Jewell said.

Rehrmann proposed putting $200,000 of the revenue towardthe estimated $400,000 cost of building a trash recycling center in the U.S. 40 corridor.

Of the remaining revenue, $32,000 would pay for the engineering costs of the recycling center and $29,000 would buy three community recycling bins, according to the proposal.

A $180,000 composting program at the Scarboro Landfill will be paid for through the recordation tax revenues under the present rate.

The county is looking for 3 to 5 acres between Edgewood andHavre de Grace for the recycling center, said Larry Klimovitz, the county director ofadministration.

When questioned by the council Tuesday, he did not say when the administration will finish a master plan for trash recycling

"We're trying to put the finishing touches on a plan that we can present to you," Klimovitz told the council members.

Councilmembers Theresa M. Pierno, D-District C, and Barry T. Glassman, R-District D, said the county must look for other sources of money to payfor recycling programs.

Pierno said the county should consider establishing a tipping fee, a charge paid by haulers at landfills.

Glassman, meanwhile, suggested that the county establish a "recycling fee" that would be based on the amount of trash a citizen puts into the waste system.

"(The recordation tax) is a Band-Aid approach," Glassman said. "It's just raising a tax. It's nothing new. I have a real problem with that."

With the council nixing the recordation taxincrease, the proposed recycling center will not get funding, Klimovitz said through county spokesman George Harrison.

"We have budgeted all of our expected revenue for next year," Klimovitz said in the statement. "We have no revenue for these projects. As far as we are concerned, the council has cut these projects."

But Councilwoman Joanne S. Parrott, R-District B, introduced an amendment to the county's proposed fiscal 1992 budget that would remove $261,000 from the capital fund.

The $261,000 is part of $750,000 earmarked for renovations at a county-owned building, 18 Office St. in Bel Air, she said. The building houses the Board of Elections.

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