Disabled veterans in Anne Arundel County will soon be eligible for property tax credits via a bill passed Monday night by the County Council.
Bill 105-20 would benefit veterans with service related disabilities of 50% or more to be entitled to property tax credits for up to five years after undergoing a vetting process by the county finance department, and given that the annual household income does not exceed $100,000.
The tax credits a veteran and their surviving spouse could receive would depend on their service-related disability rating. A veteran with a service-related disability between 50% and 74% could be entitled to a 25% tax credit, and a veteran with a service-related disability between 75% and 99% could be entitled to a 50% tax credit.
Anne Arundel Government Affairs Officer Pete Baron said as many as 3,000 veterans may benefit from the tax credits. Baron said due to a relatively significant verification process, the office of finance will request two new positions in the upcoming budget.
The legislation passed Monday night during the council’s first meeting of the 2021 calendar year, when the body only heard two pieces of legislation. They also heard and passed a bill relating to the procurement of zero emission vehicles for the county government.
The tax break for disabled veterans would also be available to their surviving spouses in the event that the veteran dies while receiving the credit, as long as the spouse continues to live in the same dwelling and not exceed the income limit. Veterans or spouses must reapply for the tax credit each year to ensure that they meet the eligibility requirements.
The legislation was supported by County Executive Steuart Pittman’s administration, though Baron pointed out what he described as a “quirk” in the bill. He questioned the five year limit for the surviving spouse after the death of a veteran, and how it would work for couples who receive the tax credit for its full period, and then die later.
Lead sponsor Councilwoman Jessica Haire, R-Edgewater, said the bill was written this way to ensure that a surviving spouse wouldn’t have this immediately taken away from them, and allow them to get back on their feet after the death of the veteran.
Council Chair Sarah Lacey, D-Jessup, made a motion to delay the vote until members of the council could think about whether they wanted to amend the bill in some way after this discussion. Haire seconded the motion, but then joined the other six of her colleagues in voting against it after Councilwoman Lisa Brannigan Rodvien, D-Annapolis, asked if anyone had ideas for amendments and no one responded.
Lacey was the only councilmember to vote against the bill.
The electric vehicle legislation also passed with six members in favor and one opposed after a lengthy debate.
Bill 106-20, sponsored by Rodvien and Lacey, largely codifies a memo sent out in July by Pittman saying the county would move toward an all-electric fleet over the next 15 years.
During the meeting, the body debated the financial benefits to this, and Councilman Nathan Volke, R-Pasadena, questioned why the bill was necessary since the county executive had already announced his intention to do the same thing, and the Office of Central Services would likely already begin buying electric vehicles if the prices were low enough.
Environmental Policy Director Matt Johnston said it was important to codify the language about electric vehicle procurement because it would help the county secure grants for the cars and for the charging infrastructure that will need to be stood up alongside them.
Rodvien also said it is important to codify the language so that the goals will be inherited by future administrations.
Volke said he thought it was an admirable policy for the county, but ultimately voted against it.
“I know that how I vote on this, people are going to say certain things about what I believe about the climate or not but I do support the idea, I do support that the county executive is looking to try to be more efficient with our fleet, but I just can’t support this idea at this point in time because it’s redundant and I think it’s largely moot to what the county executive has already done.”