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Impact Fee Delay DOA In Baltimore County Council

Baltimore County

A proposal to delay when developers will have to pay impact fees in Baltimore County is dead.

County Councilman Julian Jones said he is withdrawing the legislation because it is clear it would not pass.

Impact fees are used to help pay for things that development would have an impact on, like roads and schools.

The fees take effect in Baltimore County July 1. Jones submitted legislation this week to delay them three months. Jones said developers need more time because what they previously could do in weeks is taking months due to COVID-19’s effects on the economy.

Jones said he is withdrawing the legislation, however, because he does not have the four votes he needs to get it passed

A head count by WYPR found five of the seven council members oppose Jones’ legislation. Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski opposes it as well.

Impact fees were controversial when the county council debated them last year. For that reason, Democratic Councilman Izzy Patoka said now is not the time to consider a delay because the council is meeting virtually so there could not be a traditional public hearing.

“It’s not fair to the public so I’m not going to support this legislation,” Patoka said.

Patoka also said developers need to pay their fair share.

“The longer we delay this, the more we hurt the working families and individuals that we are trying to help,” Patoka said.

Republican Wade Kach also would have been a “no” vote.

In a statement Kach said, “At a time in which many families and individuals are going through economic hardship, offering only developers tax relief from funding important projects such as roads, bridges and schools, not to mention police and fire is a little too on the nose, given the all too well known historical relationship between Baltimore County and developers.”

Democratic Councilman Tom Quirk, who chairs the council’s spending and affordability committee, said he opposes the legislation because the county needs the revenues the impact fees will bring in.

Baltimore County has a projected revenue shortfall of close to $200 million. Tax collections have fallen off dramatically. For instance, the county is collecting less in income taxes because around 60,000 county residents are unemployed and others have taken pay cuts.

Republican Councilman David Marks, who proposed the impact fee legislation last year, opposed the delay as well. Marks questioned why developers deserve special treatment.

“Businesses everywhere are having to struggle with the impacts of the coronavirus,” Marks said. “I think many people will be angry if we provide this type of special treatment.”

Republican Councilman Todd Crandell also opposed Jones’ legislation.

Council Chair Cathy Bevins, a Democrat, did not respond to WYPR’s requests for comment.

Jones said he was surprised that his proposal to delay the impact fees turned out to be so controversial.

"Now is not a good time to add a new tax," Jones said.

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2
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