Mon August 12, 2013
Harbor Point, Miscalculated Tax Credits, and MD’s (Limited) Tax Free Shopping Week
The Baltimore City Council is set to vote tonight on a controversial plan to provide $107-million of tax increment financing for the Harbor Point development. Two Baltimore City Council members are asking the state to reimburse the city for property tax money it didn’t receive because of a miscalculation made, at least in part, by the state’s Department of Assessments and Taxation. MD’s limited tax-free shopping week is underway; we’ve got a link to information about what’s exempt and what’s not. Plus: the DGA wants to be more active in gubernatorial elections nationwide (and, critics say, in federal races), Charles County businessman Charles Lollar says he plans to seek the GOP gubernatorial nomination, the DNR bans ginseng harvesting from state-owned lands, and more.
Harbor Point: A plan to provide $107-million in public financing for the Harbor Point development is set to get a preliminary vote in the Baltimore City Council tonight. A spokesman for City Council President “Jack” Young tells the Baltimore Sun that there are “certainly” enough councilmembers planning to vote for the legislation for it to pass. Should that happen, the funding would still need to pass a final vote in September.
Miscalculated Tax Credits: Also at tonight’s City Council meeting, two Baltimore City Council members plan to issue a formal call for the state to pay the city for revenues not received because of miscalculated property tax credits. The Baltimore Sun reports that Councilmen Bill Henry and James Kraft will introduce a resolution at tonight’s City Council meeting calling on the state to “find an appropriate mechanism for the city… [to] be compensated” for the tax money that should have come in, but didn’t. Many of the errors in the tax credits were made by the state’s Department of Assessments and Taxation… but officials at that agency argue that the city deserves partial blame for some of the mistakes.
DGA Wants To Be More Active: The Democratic Governor’s Association is calling on the Federal Election Commission to let it conduct voter registration drives and get involved in get-out-the-vote efforts; the DGA says it only wants to conduct such activities in gubernatorial races. But if the FEC approves, critics tell the Baltimore Sun that the DGA would be able to spend so-called “soft money” on federal campaigns – such cash could go to third party groups that don’t coordinate their message with the DGA itself. The DGA says it “would never” try to influence federal elections. Governor Martin O’Malley is the DGA’s finance chairman, and as such, its chief fundraiser. O’Malley is considering a bid for the presidency in 2016, a federal race. O’Malley says, through a spokesperson, that he’s had no involvement in the DGA’s request.
(Limited) Tax Free Shopping Week: Maryland's limited tax-free shopping holiday is underway. From now through Saturday, shoppers can buy many articles of clothing, as well as shoes, valued up to $100 without paying the state's six-percent sales tax. But not all clothes are eligible – the tax holiday doesn’t apply to things like bicycle helmets and bowties. The state Comptroller’s office has posted a list of what’s eligible here. Maryland’s annual tax-free week brings folks in to the stores… it’s become state retailers’ second-busiest week of the year, and sales this week are expected to top $100-million. Critics of the program note that means Maryland will lose out on up to $6-million in tax revenue.
Lollar To Mount Gubernatorial Bid: Charles County businessman Charles Lollar says he plans to seek the Republican nomination in the 2014 Maryland gubernatorial race. Lollar tells the Washington Post that he’ll officially launch his campaign in early September with a three-day bus tour.
Trouble At Another Maryland Correctional Facility: WYPR's Fraser Smith and Andy Green of the Baltimore Sun talk about a recent stabbing at the maximum-security facility and why this complicates efforts at prison reform. It’s this morning’s edition of Inside Maryland Politics.
Otakon Moving To DC: Organizers of the Japanese cultural convention Otakon have announced that the event is being moved from Baltimore to Washington. Organizers tell the Baltimore Sun the decision to move was based on the current state of the Baltimore Convention Center and expectations that the facility will be replaced. The event has been held in Baltimore since 1999; it was held this past weekend at the convention center, with over 30-thousand people attending between Friday and Sunday.
DNR Bans Ginseng Harvests: There will be no more harvesting ginseng from the state-owned forests of Western Maryland. The Baltimore Sun reports that the state’s Department of Natural Resources has banned the collection of the herb an all property owned by the state; gathering ginseng had already been outlawed at state parks. Ginseng used to grow all over the state, including in Baltimore and Harford Counties, but it’s now all pretty much disappeared from everywhere but Allegheny and Garrett Counties in Western Maryland.
Swimming Restrictions At Deep Creek Lake: Swimming restrictions remain in place at Deep Creek Lake in Garrett County in Western Maryland after a massive sewage spill on Friday. Officials say 36-thousand gallons of sewage overflowed from a sewage storage facility into a stream that feeds the state owned, man-made lake. The Baltimore Sun reports that warning buoys are now floating in the areas where swimming is being discouraged. There’s more here from the Cumberland Times-News.
Baltimore Baseball: The Orioles trounced the San Francisco Giants 10 to 2 in yesterday’s game. The O’s play against the Arizona Diamondbacks tonight in Phoenix; it’s the first match of a three-game series.