Two proposed local taxes, micro-brewery bill will be discussed at hearing

February 01, 1994|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff Writer

Howard residents will have a chance to tell their General Assembly representatives tonight what they think about two proposed local taxes and a measure that would allow a restaurant-brewery in the county.

The tax bills aren't aimed at county residents, however, but at the pocketbooks of people who stay in hotels here or who might be attending NFL football games in Laurel.

Del. Martin G. Madden, R-District 13B, is sponsoring a bill that would let the County Council impose a tax on any parking space in the county within a certain distance of a proposed new football stadium for the Washington Redskins in Laurel. The authority would apply only on the day of an event.

Del. Virginia M. Thomas, D-District 13A, has suggested taking that idea one step further, offering an amendment that would designate revenue from the parking tax to pay for repairs, renovations and additions for Howard County's older schools.

"That's been an area that's been neglected," she said.

The other local bills on the agenda at tonight's public hearing -- measures filed too late to be considered during pre-session hearings -- would allow the county to continue imposing a 5 percent tax on lodging room rentals and enable the county liquor board to grant a license permitting a micro-brewery, a restaurant that brews and sells its own beer on premises.

Three business partners have approached Howard legislators in their search for a micro-brewery site in Howard County. Currently, the county liquor board doesn't have authority to grant such a license.

Residents also can comment on any issues of statewide interest at the 7:30 p.m. hearing in the Banneker Room of the George Howard Building in Ellicott City.

Mr. Madden said he is sponsoring the stadium parking tax bill to enable the county to generate revenue to offset costs for roads and other public works projects. Such costs are expected if Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke builds a 78,600-seat National Football League stadium near the Laurel Race Track in Anne Arundel County, just across the Howard border.

Ms. Thomas has recommended using the potential income for improvements to aging schools because she is concerned they are being left to deteriorate while most school construction money goes toward building new schools. She has sent her amendment proposal to PTA presidents in her district, hoping they'll support the plan.

Mr. Madden said he prefers to leave decisions on whether to impose the tax, what rate would be set and how to use revenue to the county, assuming a stadium is built.

"I don't want to micro-manage things on the state level for the county," he said.

Ms. Thomas said she's also considering offering a similar amendment to a local bill that's already been introduced in the House.

She wants to earmark 50 percent of proceeds from a county building excise tax levied on new construction -- currently used to pay for roads -- to help finance improvements at older schools.

The tax, which is due to expire this year, has generated more than $4 million since July 1992.

"I'm using every opportunity possible," she said.

The room rental tax has been generating about $1 million for the county since it was imposed -- with General Assembly authority -- in August 1992.

The tax is set to expire June 30 unless it is extended through legislation.

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