Baltimore Co. Chamber offers legislation package

Gas tax increase, hotel tax cut backed

Lobbies

January 13, 1999|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce unveiled a legislative package yesterday that supports an increase in the state gasoline tax, more funds for higher education and a cut in the hotel tax.

The chamber supports a "modest increase" in the state's 23.5-cent gasoline tax but does not have a specific amount in mind, said Robert L. McKinney, president. The chamber's package also calls for increased funding for the two four-year colleges in the county, Towson University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and for cutting the county's 8 percent hotel room tax in half.

The chamber says that, with the county enjoying healthy revenue surpluses in recent years, the hotel tax should be trimmed to 6 percent in October and to 4 percent by Oct. 1, 2000.

"It's the kind of thing that if we can do it without hurting the county budget, then it should be done," McKinney said. "But if it can't be done financially, then at least some of it should be earmarked for the county's tourism industry."

Fred Homan, county budget director, defended the hotel tax, saying it's been in place for at least 30 years, that it has been at 8 percent since 1990 and that it helps pay for services used by hotel guests. It will net the county an estimated $5.5 million this year.

The chamber also called yesterday for the appointment of a group to study the ramifications of cutting back transfer taxes levied on the sale of real estate in communities inside the Baltimore Beltway and increasing the 1.5 percent transfer tax on real estate sales in the county's agricultural corridor.

Pub Date: 1/13/99

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