County ponders waiving fees to lure businesses, jobs

August 24, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Carroll commissioners are considering waiving building permit and other fees for county businesses as a way to attract businesses and create jobs.

"What [such a waiver] really says is Carroll County wants your business," General Services Director J. Michael Evans said yesterday at a county commission staff meeting where the idea was discussed.

"There's a philosophy that you give industries a tax break to come," said Commissioner Donald I. Dell, who suggested the idea. He said it should cover existing businesses that expand as well as new businesses.

Mr. Dell and Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy said that even if they don't waive the fees, they may cap them.

Commissioner Julia W. Gouge was ill yesterday and did not attend the meeting.

Mr. Dell asked Mr. Evans and Ralph E. Green, chief of the county's Bureau of Permits and Inspections, to research how much money the county collects in fees paid by businesses. The commissioners said they will study the figures before deciding. They did not discuss how they would compensate for lost fee revenue.

Businesses constructing or expanding a building pay fees for building permits and for electrical, plumbing and grading permits, Mr. Evans said.

Fees are based on the size and value of the building. The fees are meant to cover the costs of paying inspectors, Mr. Evans said.

Businesses sometimes pay thousands of dollars in building permit fees. Merritt, a Baltimore developer, recently paid a $30,618 building permit fee for a 340,200-square-foot warehouse in Eldersburg.

Mr. Dell said he wants to know how much the county collected in fees paid by all kinds of businesses, including retail and agricultural businesses -- "anything that provides jobs."

"They ought to be cut a break," he said.

Paul Denton, president of Carroll's Economic Development Commission, said yesterday that he had not heard details of the idea of waiving or capping fees, but he said it sounded good.

"Anything that reduces the cost of doing business for business, I'm in favor of it," said Mr. Denton, who also is president of Maryland Midland Railway Co. in Union Bridge.

Mr. Lippy said he likes the idea of waiving or capping fees for businesses.

Businesses don't use as many services as residents do, he said.

A 1992 study by the county Department of Management and Budget found that for every $1 in revenues received from residential land use, the county spent $1.22 to provide services. For every $1 received from commercial and industrial uses, the county spent 55 cents for services.

Mr. Dell said he also wants to know how much businesses pay in impact fees.

Only businesses in the Freedom and Mount Airy areas pay impact fees, Mr. Evans said. Businesses and homes in those areas pay a one-time $800 fee toward the planned Gillis Falls Reservoir.

The commissioners are considering a proposal that would increase the impact fee and spread the cost of protecting water sources, such as wells and streams, and paying for future reservoirs across the county.

Mr. Lippy said he "would look with a jaundiced eye to any adjustment on an impact fee," he said.

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