Boat slip tax removal is passed

April 04, 1995|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Sun Staff Writer

The County Council unanimously approved a bill last night that will eliminate within two years a tax imposed on marina boat slip rentals.

The legislation, which was sponsored by the seven-member council, will lower the 5 percent slip tax by 1 percent in July. The next year, the tax will fall to 2 percent and it will be repealed altogether by July 1997.

At a hearing attended by about 150 to 200 marina owners and employees, Councilman Thomas W. Redmond Sr., the Pasadena Democrat who drafted the bill, said repealing the tax is an economic development initiative.

"Government really sets the tone of the economy," he said.

Mr. Redmond noted that the county will lose money because of the federal government's reduction at local military installations, including Fort Meade, and the impending closure of the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Annapolis. Eliminating the slip tax is a way for county government to stimulate the local economy.

"The slip tax is one of many issues this council will be facing in trying to improve the economic environment in Anne Arundel County," Mr. Redmond said.

Proponents of eliminating the tax have argued that, although the county will lose the approximately $550,000 in revenue the levy will generate this year, the increase in business will more than compensate for that loss.

"The maritime industry actually supports many, many other business," said E. Steuart Chaney, a South County marina owner and a force behind the drive to eliminate the tax.

He ticked off several beneficiaries of the boating industry, including hotels, restaurants, markets, shops and real estate.

William H. Durr, owner of Hammock Island Marina in Pasadena, told the council that for most of the 23 years he's been in business, he had a waiting list for slips. Starting with the recession in 1989, he began to lose business to private piers and marinas in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. Today, about a quarter of his slips are vacant.

"A few years ago I wouldn't have thought that was possible," Mr. Durr said.

The council also approved a bill that will change the membership requirements for three slots on the Amusement License Commission. The county executive will now be free to appoint any citizen to the commission.

Previously, of the six members on the commission, one had to possess knowledge of bingo operations, one had to be familiar with coin-operated amusement machines and a third had to be a member of a charitable or nonprofit organization involved in fund-raising through bingo or other games of chance.

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