County Council bill seeks to eliminate boat slip tax by 1997

March 21, 1995|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Sun Staff Writer

The county tax on boat slips, which was cut in half last year, could be headed for extinction.

A bill introduced last night by the entire County Council would cut the 5 percent slip tax, which is assessed as part of each docking or storage fee charged by a marina, by 1 percent this year.

In July 1996, the tax would fall to 2 percent and by July 1997 it would be eliminated.

Proposed elimination of the tax is bad news for Annapolis city officials, whose own slip tax is set by law at the same rate as the county's.

City officials bitterly opposed last year's cut, saying Annapolis could not afford the loss in revenue.

"We have expenses related to the maritime industry," Annapolis Mayor Al Hopkins said last night.

He cited the cost of maintaining buoys, paying for the harbor master and upkeep of fire and police department boats.

"If it doesn't come from the maritime industry, it will have to come from the property taxes, because we can't give up our police boat and our fire boat," Mr. Hopkins said.

"Our harbor is very important to us. That's why we work so hard to maintain it."

The city, which has a $38 million operating budget, takes in about $250,000 each year with the tax at 5 percent.

To make up the difference, property taxes for Annapolis residents would have to be increased by about 2.5 cents per $100 of assessed value.

The county, to recoup the approximately $500,000 it takes in with the tax, would have to raise its property tax rate by a .5 cent per $100 of assessed value.

Councilman Thomas W. Redmond Sr., the Pasadena Democrat who sponsored the bill and was able to get his colleagues to co-sponsor it, said eliminating the tax would act as an economic stimulus for the boating industry.

"We're the only jurisdiction in the state of Maryland that taxes [boat slips] and I think it puts us at an economic disadvantage," Mr. Redmond said.

The county collected $1.06 million in the 1994 fiscal year, when the tax was 10 percent.

In the current fiscal year, the county's budget office estimates the tax will generate $539,280 in revenue.

But Mr. Redmond said he has received figures from the county auditor that indicate the county will collect nearly $700,000, which Mr. Redmond attributed to an increase in marina business because of the lower tax.

Republican Councilman William C. Mulford II, who represents Annapolis, said he would support the elimination of the slip tax.

"The City of Annapolis has the independent authority to enact legislation to institute their own slip tax if they want," Mr. Mulford said.

"At this point, they're simply piggybacked on the county's legislation. If they want to enact their own enabling legislation, they can . . . . They've got plenty of time to do it. They've got three years."

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