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Mayor's challenger wants tourists to pay for visiting ANNAPOLIS/SOUTH COUNTY -- Davidsonville * Edgewater * Shady Side * Deale


Annapolis should make tourists foot the bill for every flush or sip of water they take while in the city, a Republican mayoral candidate said yesterday.

"Every time they flush or take a drink of water or throw something away, we pay for it," said Larry Vincent, a businessman who hopes to unseat Democratic Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins in the fall election.

Mr. Vincent, who released a 13-point plan to revitalize the city's economy, said he would find ways to make tourists -- particularly day-trippers who avoid the city's hotel room occupancy tax -- share those costs. For example, he suggested that the city require each charter bus to obtain a license to enter Annapolis.

Mr. Hopkins protested, "This is America, where we have the freedom to go where we want. We can't charge people to come into Annapolis."

Mr. Vincent, the owner of a Main Street clothing store, said the city's economy is struggling and charged that Mr. Hopkins is out of touch. Mr. Vincent said he drafted his revitalization plan after the mayor and other city officials met with the Annapolis Business Association on March 26.

"We're losing businesses and jobs. Every time you see an empty storefront, it means somebody has lost a job," Mr. Vincent said. The mayor presented no long-term plans to improve the economy, he said.

"People ask about the future of Annapolis, and Al says, 'I remember when we used to have trolley cars on Main Street.' Well, that's wearing a little thin," Mr. Vincent said.

Mr. Hopkins argued that he does have an plan. He said he recently hired the city's first economic development coordinator and that the City Council has created its first standing committee on the topic.

But, he added, "The first strategy is to maintain the city's fiscal health. That's uppermost. The city is in good fiscal shape."

Mr. Vincent said his plan identifies the three "cornerstones" of the city's economy -- maritime industry, tourism and government -- and would work to maintain them all.

It recommends that the city actively recruit other businesses, including small high-tech companies, to fill the vacant office space. But the proposal includes no specifics on how they would be recruited.

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