Tax repeal likely for marina slips

April 03, 1995|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Sun Staff Writer

Anne Arundel marina owners say they are looking forward to the repeal of a county tax on the slips they lease that they say puts them at a competitive disadvantage.

That day may come soon by means of a bill that phases out the tax by 1997. The measure, which is virtually assured passage because it is co-sponsored by the entire County Council, comes before the council for a public hearing tonight.

County marina owners have been lobbying for repeal for years.

"I think the biggest problem is Anne Arundel County has long been at a disadvantage with the other counties because no other county has it," said Mitchell Nathanson, who owns Pier 4 Marina in Annapolis, as well as marinas in five other counties.

E. Steuart Chaney, owner of Herrington Harbour in Rose Haven and Herrington Harbour North in Tracey's Landing, said an improved road network has helped increase marina competition.

"Anne Arundel County and Annapolis are not the only options that boaters have," he said. "Ten years ago we had waiting lists. Today we have vacancies, and it is clear that boaters are going to other marinas."

Last year, the council cut the tax from 10 percent of the lease fee to 5 percent, causing at least some drop in the vacancy rate, according to marine industry representatives.

"Nothing dramatic, nothing earth-shattering. But something very positive," said Beth Kahr, director of the Marine Trades Association of Maryland.

"It's extremely refreshing to work with a council that is responsive to an important industry in the county," Ms. Kahr said, pointing to a recent study by the University of Maryland that showed that for every 10.5 boats registered in the state, one full-time job is created.

That study also showed that Anne Arundel County, where boaters spent $191 million or 22 percent of the total spent by boaters in the state last year, received by far the most economic benefit from the boating industry of any jurisdiction in the state.

Amid the enthusiasm for repealing the tax, Annapolis officials are sounding a note of discord. Annapolis' slip tax is set by county law at the same rate as the county's. The city stands to lose about $250,000 a year in tax revenue from its $38 million operating budget if the tax is eliminated.

Councilman William C. Mulford II, a Republican who represents Annapolis on the County Council, has said that the city council could pass enabling legislation to institute its own slip tax.

The county would lose about $550,000 a year in revenue from the tax, but that represents a much smaller portion of its $710 million budget than for the city.

"We certainly don't support what they're doing," said City Administrator Michael D. Malinoff. "It has a great fiscal impact on us."

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. in the council chambers in Annapolis.

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