City seeks part of revenue from cell phone tax


March 23, 2004|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

The Annapolis city council, on a 7-1 vote, approved a resolution last night requesting that Anne Arundel County give the city a share of revenues that could be generated by a proposed cell phone tax.

A General Assembly bill introduced by the Anne Arundel delegation at the request of County Executive Janet S. Owens would allow the county to levy a tax on county residents' cell phone bills. If the bill passes, the tax will need the approval of the County Council.

Owens has said she will not seek a rate higher than 5 percent, which would produce an estimated $6 million to $8 million a year in revenue for the county. The money would be used for public safety, Owens has said.

Prince George's County imposed a similar levy last year.

Annapolis leaders said the city deserves a share of the proposed tax because its 36,000 residents make up nearly 7 percent of the county's population and because Annapolis has its own police and fire departments.

"It's only fair," the resolution sponsor, Alderwoman Sheila M. Tolliver, said before last night's meeting.

Mayor Ellen O. Moyer cast the only dissenting vote. Alderman Josh Cohen was absent.

Owens is aware of the city's request, said spokesman Matt Diehl, but will not respond until the General Assembly votes on the bill. "We're taking it one step at a time," Diehl said.

Scant support

The bill has received little support from state elected officials. The county delegation sent a letter to County Council members at the beginning of the legislative session to gauge their interest in the tax and did not receive a reply.

The bill's sponsor, Del. Mary Ann Love, a Democrat who is chairwoman of the county delegation, has said she does not support the legislation but thinks it deserves a hearing.

No endorsement

Annapolis leaders pointed out that that their resolution "is not an endorsement," Alderman David Cordle, a resolution co-sponsor, said before last night's meeting. "But we want to make our position known."

Moyer said before the meeting she is concerned that Annapolis could be seen as an advocate for a bill she considers unlikely to pass. Any action taken on the measure by the city "means we are lobbying" on behalf of the county delegation, she said, "and that's inappropriate."

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