County needs help to deal with BRAC
The good news about the national military base realignment is that we're getting thousands of new jobs at Aberdeen Proving Ground. The bad news is we're being stuck with the costs of providing infrastructure for tens of thousands of new people.
Harford County is trying to shoulder these responsibilities but is being denied the tools needed to do the job.
For example, Harford has already forward-funded schools just to keep up with current growth. The state government provides much less than is needed because of its own money issues, we're told. So our County Council requested permission to place a transfer tax on the sale of existing homes. We've been asking for at least the past two years. Why is the answer still no? If our delegation to the General Assembly won't - or can't - supply the money, then allow us to do it ourselves.
Harford taxpayers also will be hurt because the Army plans to lease areas of APG for businesses to build commercial office space. It's called "Enhanced Use Lease." If these buildings were on normal, commercial property, the owners would be paying local and state taxes. But since their landlord, the Army, is exempt from these taxes, Harford will lose the income these office buildings would normally produce. Our infrastructure expenses will increase, but our tax income will be reduced.
I'm asking you to please do two things to help Harford pay for BRAC: support enabling legislation for a transfer tax on the sale of existing homes, and help work out a deal with the Army that gives Harford the income equivalent to the taxes that would be paid if the EUL businesses were located on regular commercial property.
So, to the members of the Harford delegation in Annapolis: Stand up for the taxpayers of the county. We need your help.
Morita C. Bruce Fallston