This post summarizes the status of finance and procurement bills that MACo either considered or took a position on.
Sustainable Communities: HB 613 would expand the financing options available to local governments with designated sustainable communities to include those employed in Transit Orientated Developments and the use of tax increment financing (TIF). MACo supported this bill as it provided one more tool in the tool box for local governments to carry out important projects in these designated areas.
Final Status: The General Assembly passed HB 613.
Disparity Grant: HB 914, as introduced, would have eliminated the cap placed on the disparity grant program effective fiscal 2010 and phased in the additional funding for eligible counties over 5 years, 20% per year, beginning in fiscal 2015. As amended, the bill would keep the cap in place, but provide a minimum grant for other counties that may be eligible based on a county’s level of tax effort. MACo supported the legislation stating that it addresses inequities in the program and allows all jurisdictions meeting the eligibility criteria to fully benefit from the program. The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee took similar action through HB 102, the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act (BRFA). Under the modified program in the BRFA, eligible counties would continue to receive the amount of funding provided in Fiscal Year 2010, but a minimum grant was added to the program based on local tax effort. The local income tax rate to be eligible to receive a grant is also being increased from 2.4% to 2.6%.
Final Status: HB 914 died on the House floor. However, HB 102 passed the General Assembly after differences were resolved by a House and Senate budget conference committee. Funding was provided in the supplemental budget for the disparity grant enhancement. More detail on the disparity grant program and a funding breakdown can be found in a previous blog on Conduit Street.
Foreclosure Protections: HB 1008 would require the purchaser at a foreclosure sale to close on the transaction and record a deed transferring title within 60 days after the entry of the final order of ratification. If the transaction has not closed, the purchaser must record among the land records contact information of the purchaser, who can accept legal service for the purchaser, and who is responsible for property maintenance. MACo supported this legislation as it would provide appropriate notification to the State Department of Assessments and Taxation to remove Homestead Tax Credits and assist local officials with identifying parties responsible for the maintenance of a foreclosed property.
Final Status: HB 1008 was given an unfavorable report by the House Environmental Matters Committee.
Transportation Infrastructure Banks: HB 1322 would expand the financing options available to local governments for transportation projects by establishing a Transportation Infrastructure Bank. MACo supported the bill as it would provide another effective tool for funding transportation projects.
Final Status: No action was taken on HB 1322 by the House Ways and Means Committee.
Capital Budget – Matching Funds: SB 569 would authorize a county who is the grantee of a local capital project requiring a county match to include the salaries or wages the county pays to employees as part of its in-kind contribution. MACo supported this legislation stating that it would give counties greater flexibility in meeting project matching requirements.
Final Status: No action was taken on SB 569 by the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.
Prepaid Phone Services – 9-1-1 Fee: SB 745 would extend Maryland’s current 9-1-1 charge to prepaid wireless services and ensure Maryland’s 9-1-1 system is appropriately supported. MACo supported the legislation stating that it provides a reasonable approach for extending this surcharge to all individuals who benefit from these important services and it would provide additional revenue to support the most important functions of our emergency call centers.
Final Status: The General Assembly passed SB 745 without amendments.
Maintenance of Everything: SB 1055 would require counties to maintain funding levels year to year across a wide variety of services labeled in the bill as “critical.” MACo opposed the legislation expressing concern with the precedent the legislation would set and the severe limits it would place on a county’s autonomy to manage its budget.
Final Status: No action was taken on SB 1055 by the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.