Port Covington bond bill petitioned to full city council | WYPR

Port Covington bond bill petitioned to full city council

Sep 12, 2016

Councilman Carl Stokes, who leads the committee that oversaw the Port Covington tax financing package, said he will vote in favor of it despite some concerns.
Credit P. Kenneth Burns

The Baltimore City Council will get a look Monday at all three bills that are part of the largest tax financing package for a development project in city history.  That’s because Councilman Eric Costello led efforts to wrest the bill authorizing bonds for the Port Covington project out of its committee.

That committee approved two of the bills for the project last Thursday, but Chairman Carl Stokes called a recess before a vote on the bond bill. He said he wanted to give people time to read a community benefits agreement that was announced before the meeting.

But over the weekend, Costello rounded up the votes to force the bond bill out of committee for a preliminary vote by the full council at Monday’s meeting along with two other bills creating the Port Covington development and taxing districts.

Stokes – who expressed concerns about the committee doing its job in vetting the bill – said Monday he would vote in favor of all three bills.  He insisted that he was “good.”

“I don’t wear it on my sleeve; I’m a man of faith,” Stokes said. “Inside of that, spiritually, I’m good.”

Stokes said that he is going to take Kevin Plank, owner of Sagamore Development, at his word that he will honor the community agreement providing more than $100 million in city wide benefits.

That agreement includes more inclusionary housing at Port Covington, money for recreation facilities, scholarships and summer jobs for youth.

The bond bill would authorize $660 million in bonds to finance the public infrastructure – parks, roads, sewer – for the project in South Baltimore. The bonds would be repaid with property taxes raised by the project over decades.

Click here to learn how tax increment financing, TIFs, work.