Hotel Tax, Reserve Fund, Mining Restrictions Proposed

August 07, 1991|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff writer

Tourists staying overnight in Carroll hotels would pay a special taxunder a proposal introduced by the county budget office to be considered for the 1992 General Assembly.

The county commissioners discussed proposals from five county agencies Monday, including legislation that would protect citizens and historic properties from mining expansions and allow the county to establish a budget reserve fund for use during economic crises.

The proposals supported by the commissioners will be submitted toCarroll's General Assembly delegation, which will decide whether to introduce them as legislation for the session beginning in January.

The lodging tax, which would affect mostly non-county residents, could raise an estimated $15,000 to $20,000 annually for Carroll, says an analysis from the state's Department of Fiscal Services. It also would apply to motels, inns and rooming houses.

Several county officials questioned whether the tax would be beneficial, considering thecounty has relatively few hotels and the tax could discourage overnight lodging.

"I'm not sneering at the estimate of revenue, but it seems disappointingly low," said Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy. "What would be the impact for this amount of money?"

The revenue could beearmarked for various purposes. The money could be used to promote tourism, said Micki Smith, who, as deputy director of the Department of Administrative Services, oversees the tourism bureau.

Twelve counties in Southern and Western Maryland and on the Eastern Shore have adopted the tax at either 3 percent or 5 percent rates. Most have designated the money toward tourism or to general operating budgets.

None of Carroll's six state legislators attended the meeting. But Delegate Richard C. Matthews, R-Carroll, said he probably would oppose alodging tax because of the current "tax revolt" atmosphere.

"It'sthe same old story," said the delegation chairman. "We continue raising taxes without demonstrating that we're exercising priorities on spending."

The proposals concerning mining would complement the comprehensive mineral mining plan being developed by the county Department of Planning. The plan seeks to determine where mining should take place and how to protect both the resources and surrounding residential and commercial properties.

One proposal would authorize the county to designate "villages of historic importance" as a basis for providing a minimum distance between quarrying activities and old farming, business and residential areas such as New Windsor and Linwood.

David Duree, a spokesman for the New Windsor Community Action Project, said properties outside the designated communities that could be hurt by mining also should be considered in any bill.

A second proposal would require Realtors to notify prospective buyers of a designated mining "overlay" zone, a district in which mining would be allowed as a permitted use for companies seeking permits to expand operations.

The reserve fund proposed by the Office of the Comptroller would be set aside for emergency uses, such as if the state made severe cuts in local aid. It would differ from the existing contingency fund, which is designated for certain purposes such as snow removal and other budget overruns.

The comptroller also recommended legislationto increase by $2 million to $3 million the amount the county is authorized to lend through bond sales to volunteer fire companies for equipment and construction projects.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.