Legal Hitch Blocks District From Joining Municipal League


December 10, 1991|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff writer

A legal glitch discovered last month is preventing Crofton's specialtax district from joining the Maryland Municipal League.

Town Manager Jordan Harding said lawyers from Crofton and the league are trying to resolve the issue, which may have to be put before the Annapolis-based organization's board of directors.

"They are doing everything possible to help us join," Harding said of municipal league officials.

The civic association's board of directors voted last month to join the league and take advantage of its health and liability insur

ance programs, which Harding said are cheaper and offer better benefits than the commercial company Crofton now uses.

The cost for joining the organization is about $7,500a year, depending on each town or city's assessment base.

Hardingsaid spending the money on dues, which include the health and liability insurance, would save the special tax district $1,000 next year.

The glitch comes in joining the insurance trust programs that would offer health benefits to the community's five police officers, its counselor and the comptroller. Harding, also a paid employee, collects his own health insurance because he is a retired federal governmentworker.

A phrase in the health plan, called the Local Government Health Benefit Trust, says that communities must pledge their taxing power to the trust. That is a guarantee that Crofton can raise collateral by levying taxes.

But Crofton legally has no such power. The special tax district operates under the authority of the County Council. Though Crofton establishes its own budget and sets its own tax rate, the county collects the money and gives it back to the community.

Though it has never happened, the County Council could veto any budget approved by Crofton's board of directors or passed by the general membership.

Harding said that the municipal league either will have to grant Crofton a special exemption to the rule or the community will

have to seek additional powers from the council.

Other special tax districts in the state, such as Friendship Heights in Montgomery County, have their power bestowed upon them by the state, which has granted them full taxing authority and the ability to sell bonds.

Harding said there is no such clause in the legal wording for the liability package, called the Local Government Insurance Trust. Hesaid it could take one or two months to sort out the problems.

Crofton would have become the 154th member of the non-profit, non-partisan league, which represents 149 city and town governments in Maryland and four special taxing districts.

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