Arundel delegates offer bill to allow cell phone tax

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Anne Arundel County has taken the first step toward taxing cellular phone use by residents - but it has a long way to go.

Legislation introduced Thursday by the county's House delegation, at the request of County Executive Janet S. Owens, would allow her to levy such a tax.

Owens, a Democrat, announced yesterday that if the bill is approved, she would not seek a tax rate higher than 5 percent. The money raised by the tax would be dedicated to public safety.

Del. Mary Ann Love, a Democrat and the chairwoman of the delegation, introduced the legislation even though she said she does not support it.

"It is something that I think at least needs a hearing," she said. The delegation will discuss the proposal with county officials March 4.

Owens has said the county is facing a $15 million shortfall for the fiscal year that begins July 1, and that amount is expected to grow as the county approves raises for its employee unions. She has also said she wants to raise the county's income tax by nearly a fifth.

Before the cell tax could be implemented, the General Assembly would have to approve the bill, the governor would have to sign it, Owens would have to propose the tax locally and the Republican-led County Council would have to approve it.

To pass the House, the bill would almost certainly need formal approval from the county's 15-member delegation, Love said. That requires 10 votes, and it does not yet have that many supporters, she said.

She also echoed the sentiment of several County Council members who have said a cell phone tax is not likely to be approved by the council.

Last year, Prince George's County imposed a similar tax.

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