Repeal snack tax, state legislators are urged

November 29, 1995|By Sherrie Ruhl | Sherrie Ruhl,SUN STAFF

Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann urged local legislators yesterday to bolster economic development in the county by repealing Maryland's snack tax during the next General Assembly session.

Speaking to the county delegation, Mrs. Rehrmann said the sales tax could slow further expansion at Frito-Lay Inc.'s Aberdeen plant. The 3-year-old 5 percent tax applies to salty, unbaked snacks such as pretzels, nuts and chips.

"Other states which do not have this tax are knocking on Frito-Lay's door, attempting to persuade them to move," she said during the meeting at Harford Community College.

Frito-Lay, which opened a $55 million manufacturing and ZTC distribution plant in 1993, had threatened to halt plant expansion when legislators did not repeal the snack tax during the 1995 assembly session.

But Gov. Parris N. Glendening and legislative leaders promised Frito-Lay that the tax, which generates about $15 million annually, would be repealed.

Because of those promises, Frito-Lay went forward with its expansion plans, this summer adding baked potato chips and tortilla chips to its Rold Gold pretzel line. The company increased its work force from 150 to 225.

"We plan to continue growing this plant but that's contingent on having a climate that is supportive of our business and that means the repeal of the snack tax," said Robbi Deitrich, Frito-Lay's director of government affairs.

Mrs. Rehrmann also asked the delegation to consider legislation enabling the county to charge developers impact fees for new homes. The fee, which has yet to be determined, would be used to upgrade county roads.

Mrs. Rehrmann also asked the delegation to consider:

* State bond funding of $1 million toward the construction of a second academic building at the Higher Education and Applied Technology center in Aberdeen. If approved, construction would start this summer on the two-story, 15,000-square-foot laboratory building.

* Funding for other projects, including $600,000 to help pay for a Boys and Girls Club in Edgewood, $1 million to complete renovations at Hickory Elementary near Bel Air and $1.7 million to complete renovations at Halls Cross Roads Elementary in Aberdeen.

* Making an "alcohol awareness program" mandatory for employees of bars and restaurants.

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