Delegate wants counties to share stadium tax wealth

March 09, 1994|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Sun Staff Writer

A Howard County delegate has introduced a bill that would spread the wealth of an admissions tax among four neighboring jurisdictions if a new football stadium is built in Laurel.

If the stadium were built today, Anne Arundel County would collect all of the admissions and amusement tax -- a 10 percent levy on the ticket price -- because the stadium proposed by Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke would lie within its borders.

But Del. Virginia M. Thomas, D-Howard County, whose district includes Laurel, introduced a bill Monday that would send 60 percent of the amusement tax to Anne Arundel County, 15 percent to the city of Laurel, 15 percent to Howard County and 10 percent to Prince George's County.

Anne Arundel County budget officials estimate the proposed 78,600-seat stadium would generate about $30 million in ticket sales each year for football games and other events, producing about $3 million in admissions taxes for the county.

Delegate Thomas said she introduced the bill because her constituents in North Laurel and the city of Laurel told her they would need money for additional police and fire protection, as well as transportation improvements, if the stadium were built.

"This is a way of saying, if it's built, it will be located in Anne Arundel County but it will have regional impact," she said. "If the stadium goes in that area, it would be nice to have a regional sharing of the amusement taxes."

Anne Arundel officials said yesterday they hadn't known a revenue-sharing proposal would be introduced.

"It was a big surprise to everyone over here," said Louise Hayman, a spokeswoman for County Executive Robert R. Neall. "This is an intriguing idea and it begs the question if these jurisdictions who would benefit from the amusement tax would also like to share in the infrastructure costs."

A report estimating the cost of road and transportation improvements is scheduled to be released in Annapolis today.

Some of Mr. Neall's colleagues, whose constituents would benefit from the bill, also gave the plan a cold response.

"I think it's premature to put a bill in to divide the tax," said Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker. "I think there are other ways the Redskins would pay Howard County for any costs."

Prince George's County Executive Parris N. Glendening said Delegate Thomas' bill would be a great idea -- if he supported building the stadium in Laurel.

"I applaud her effort at fairness. I word it that way because the adverse impact of that stadium will in fact be shared by all four of those jurisdictions," Mr. Glendening said. "But until really important policy issues on environment, transportation and cost benefit analysis are answered, I don't think we should support the stadium at all."

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