Delegation likely to kill bill to assist BWI neighbors Proposal would grant property tax credits

February 22, 1996|By Scott Wilson | Scott Wilson,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel's General Assembly delegation is poised to kill legislation that would qualify 2,000 homeowners near Baltimore-Washington International Airport for property tax credits.

County finance officials have told the House delegation that the tax credits, which would result from expanding the airport's noise zone to include several surrounding neighborhoods, could squeeze $1.2 million in annual revenue from an already tight budget.

As a result, say sources within the delegation, the 13-member group will reject the measure during its meeting tomorrow. Without the delegation's endorsement, the bill faces almost-certain defeat before the House Ways and Means Committee, which rarely overrides the preferences of local legislators.

"We're going to have a rough time in front of the delegation," said Del. James E. Rzepkowski, a Pasadena Republican sponsoring the bill. "The county is opposed to it. But I disagree with their logic."

About 20 Anne Arundel homeowners now receive tax credits for living within BWI's noise zone, a compensation for diminished property values.

The proposed legislation would allow county officials to extend the zone to encomy pass roughly 2,000 more homes.

"The airport generates an awful lot of money in this county," said Del. Michael Burns, a Glen Burnie Republican co-sponsoring the bill. "It does that by expanding, and by doing that, it is bothering people who weren't bothered 20 years ago."

While Dels. Rzepkowski and Burns see the bill as a nod to fairness, county officials call it passing the buck. The state is responsible for reimbursing homeowners for lost property values because BWI is a state-run agency, they argue.

"This is a game of political hot potato," said John R. Hammond, Anne Arundel's finance officer. "They are just trying to pass the potato down to the counties."

In addition, the delegation is to consider a bill to allow franchise restaurants to hold more than one liquor license within county lines. The bill is being sponsored by Del. Phillip D. Bissett, a Republican from Edgewater, on behalf of County Executive John G. Gary.

Restaurant chains now are allowed a single liquor license, which has discouraged several companies from opening more than one franchise in the county. Ruby Tuesday's, for example, opened its second restaurant in Annapolis, which has its own licensing board.

Initially, the Anne Arundel License Beverage Association opposed the measure, fearing it would allow large restaurant chains to swallow mom-and-pop operations.

But the bill Mr. Gary and association representatives negotiated is a compromise that would grant second licenses only to restaurants in certain locations, such as airports or malls with more than 40 stores. Only 15 "second" licenses would be issued in the county.

"This has a good possibility of passing with these concessions," said Delegate Bissett, the delegation chairman. "And it will still be an economic development tool."

The delegation also is expected to endorse a bill allowing attorneys to serve as judges in Orphans' Court. The measure is sponsored by Del. Joan Cadden, a Brooklyn Park Democrat.

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