Wielding signs that featured Rich Uncle Pennybags, the Monopoly game mascot, and the phrase “pay poor tax of $600,” residents came out Monday night to show support for a County Council bill that would repeal the county’s tax on mobile home rental sites.
The tax currently affects roughly 1,100 residents, who pay on average $45 per month, to live in what is otherwise considered affordable housing. Rent for a mobile home is an average of $700 a month, compared to more than $1,500 a month for an apartment in Columbia.
The average mobile home resident earns $30,000 a year, according to Rick Robinson, general counsel for the trade association the Manufactured Housing Institute. Robinson testified in support of the bill.
The tax is 10 percent on the first $300 of rent and 5 percent of all rent above that amount and is collected by mobile home park owners as part of the monthly rent. The bill is not a property tax and does not reduce the mobile home park’s property taxes.
Residents including Amy Lamke, a 52-year-old single mother who has lived in an Elkridge mobile home park for 13 years, testified about how the repeal of the tax could help their lives. Since living in her home, Lamke calculated that she’s paid at least $7,000 in the tax, money that she said if she’d had, she would have used to pay for tutoring and after-school activities for her daughter.
Lamke said she’s spent the last several weeks knocking on her neighbor’s doors to raise awareness and support for the bill.
“Six or seven hundred dollars [a year] might not seem like a lot to you, but for people on a shoestring budget counting every penny, this amount of money can make a significant difference in their lives,” she said.
More than 20 people sat in the audience to show their support for the bill, co-sponsored by Democrats Jen Terrasa and Calvin Ball. Terrasa’s office has calculated that the tax brings in $614,000 in revenue to the county each year.
The council could vote on the proposal as early as July 27.