Mayor Gavin Buckley and his State House allies have been working on legislation since summer to more increase reimbursement to Annapolis for the services it provides to the state.
House Speaker Mike Busch filed a bill Friday to rectify the payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, the state pays the city. The bill, if passed, would ensure the PILOT doesn’t dip below $750,000. It also codifies inflation adjustments every year beginning fiscal 2022.
The filing came on the same day Gov. Larry Hogan dropped his fiscal 2020 budget. Hogan appropriated no money for the city PILOT, a break from the steady $367,000 the city has been receiving since 2006.
“I don’t recall a time in recent memory when it wasn’t funded,” said Victoria Gruber, legislative services director.
Hogan officials did not respond to a request for comment.
The PILOT, in theory, makes up for the public safety and public works services from the city that benefit the state-owned buildings in city limits. There are 59-state-owned buildings in the city.
Police officers, firefighters and public works staff all serve the State House, James Senate Office Building and the Lowe House Office Building among others.
The PILOT has been stagnant since at least 2006. For the last 13 years, governors have appropriated $367,000.
The city of Annapolis spends about $650,000 on these services, Busch said. It was a priority “so we won’t have to come back every year and bargain over how much the city of Annapolis deserves,” he said. “We feel pretty confident it's going to pass.”
Annapolis mayors often make a campaign pledge to address the PILOT. Former Mayor Mike Pantelides asked Hogan for $1.25 million in fiscal 2018. His administration tallied up to $2.4 million in costs for services and purchases.
Buckley said he’s thrilled to be getting the potential boost, though he was not aware of Hogan’s decision to defund the PILOT this year.
State Sen. Sarah Elfreth, D-Annapolis, planned to cross-file the bill in the State Senate. Del. Alice Cain, D-Annapolis, co-sponsored the House bill.
“Obviously, the city provides a lot of services to the state — everything from police and fire and bomb squad to plowing the streets in a snowstorm on and on — and the state takes up a large footprint in the city itself,” Elfreth said. “It hasn’t been updated since 2006 and it’s sorely needed.”
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If passed, the bill would take the discretion to set the PILOT amount away from the governor. It would go into effect July 1.