More and more American are working from home — 5.2 percent of U.S. workers, according to census data. That’s an increase of more than 63 percent since 2000 as ever-improving technology allows employees from myriad fields to telecommute.

Carroll County should be fertile territory indeed for this work-from-home generation given the number of employers throughout the Baltimore-Washington region who embrace this way of doing business. Thus, we are intrigued by the idea brought up during the Board of County Commissioners’ most recent meeting regarding enabling legislation to be able to provide financial incentives for remote workers to buy homes in Carroll.

Advertisement

Commissioner Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, suggested creating a remote worker grant program that would enable the county to offer monetary incentives for people who work from home to move to Carroll County. Frazier noted that this type of resident is even more desirable than a traditional commuter because they don’t use Carroll roadways on the way to work. He said Vermont gives $10,000 to people to move into the state after they close on their house and he recommended Carroll County give a $5,000 incentive.

“It might be enough to move the needle for someone to say, 'I was thinking about Carroll County or I was thinking about another county, but this $5,000 ... I’ll move in," Frazier said during Thursday’s meeting. Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, responded: “It’s a nice gesture and it’s incentivizing someone to move into Carroll County. I like it. I like building a workforce.”

We like it, too. And the plan sounded even better after the commissioners decided to tweak it based on a suggestion from Commissioner President Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, after hearing from Commissioner Eric Bouchat, R-District 4, about why he was not in favor of it. Wantz suggested the grant be available to anyone who is buying a home in Carroll County who fits this criteria, whether moving in another county or state or from one house to another within this county.

This seems to address Bouchat’s sensible concern: “I think the real issue here for us in the county is the tremendous investment we are making in our students and they’re leaving our county. ... I don’t think we should be giving incentives for people who didn’t grow up here, to come here. I think our focus should really be based on our children that we’ve invested in and keeping them here.”

We couldn’t agree more with that. For too long, young people and their families have looked at home ownership in Carroll County as being too expensive. For those inclined to stay, however, $5,000 toward closing could close the gap a bit and perhaps be a deciding factor in keeping them from retreating over the Mason-Dixon line for a less expensive place to live.

Commissioner Richard Weaver, R-District 2, liked the idea but suggested exploring other options for financing the incentive. “It’s taxpayer money," he said. "Should we be allocating taxpayer money to something like this?” “To benefit Carroll County,” Frazier quickly responded.

The pool of money for the incentives would come from a $500,000 state small-business loan fund grant, according to county administrator Roberta Windham, who also noted that this would be a grant for the new homeowner, not a tax credit, and when the limited pool of money for the grants runs out, it runs out.

The commissioners will meet with Carroll’s delegation to Annapolis on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. in the Reagan Room of the county office building to discuss all the possible legislation they’d like to see considered. We hope the delegation agrees that enabling legislation for a remote worker grant fund makes good sense for Carroll County and pledges to push it forward during the next session.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement