Ban would force tax rate increase, builders say Commissioners to vote today on proposed development limits

April 25, 1996|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

Carroll's building industry continued its campaign against a proposed 18-month development ban yesterday, charging the County Commissioners with adding at least 9 cents of a planned 27-cent property tax rate increase to cover lost revenue caused by fewer housing starts.

Richard L. Hull, president of Carroll Land Services Inc. and founder of a group called Citizens for Managed Growth, aired figures yesterday that he said showed the county knowingly anticipates less revenue from developer impact fees in the next year.

By the industry's reckoning, the county will lose at least $2.92 million because of a projected slowdown in housing starts. Because each penny on the tax rate amounts to $334,000, the county would have to add 9 cents to the rate to cover the loss, Mr. Hull said.

County revenue projections are based on 1,100 housing starts in the next year, which is 334 fewer than this year. Impact fees alone -- $4,440 per house on 334 fewer houses -- amount to a $1.46 million loss, Mr. Hull said.

When other fees are added, the loss will be about twice that much, he said.

Steven D. Powell, county budget director, denied the accusation. "There is no correlation between the budget and any housing issue at this point," he said.

But Mr. Hull fears that there might be.

The County Commissioners are scheduled to vote today on an Interim Development Control Ordinance that would halt new subdivisions for 18 months while the county revises its master plan.

The Chamber of Commerce, County Economic Development Commission and the local chapter of the Homebuilders Association of Maryland oppose the ban, but the commissioners appear likely to pass it in a split vote today.

The county Planning Commission voted 4-3 last week to support the proposed ban. After the meeting, the homebuilders issued a press release expressing "outrage" at the vote.

An 18-month shut down would amount to a four-year halt for builders, Mr. Hull said, because it would take two years to get through the building permit cycle once the ban was lifted.

That could be "devastating" not just to homebuilders and associated industries, but to the county as well, Mr. Hull said.

The county would lose millions as a result of dramatically reduced housing starts and could suffer an income tax loss as well, he said.

According to a financial impact study done for the homebuilders by Legg Mason Realty Group of Baltimore, housing industry workers paid the county $3.2 million in income taxes in 1995.

Overall, according to the study, Carroll's housing industry generated 3,131 full-time jobs and $96.5 million in wages in 1995 -- an average of $30,820 per job.

George S. Dorsey, the local homebuilders' chapter president, wants the county to do an impact study before the commissioners vote on the proposed ban.

Pub Date: 4/25/96

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