Hogan Stresses Bay & Environmental Achievements in Sun Op-Ed

In a Baltimore Sun op-ed (2017-08-10), Maryland Governor Lawrence “Larry” Hogan discussed his Administration’s efforts on restoring the Chesapeake Bay and the need for Maryland to find a solution for the sediment and nutrient pollution posed by the Conowingo Dam. The dam basin, which for decades has served as a trap for sediment and nutrients flowing down the Susquehanna River, appears to be at capacity.

Hogan noted that his Administration has: (1) spent $3 billion in Bay restoration efforts in two and a half years; (2) restored funding for Program Open Space and the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund; (3) developed a new Phosphorus Management Tool for agriculture; (4) enacted a revised Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act and Maryland Climate Change Commission; (5) prohibited natural gas hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as “fracking”) in the State; (6) worked to update the multi-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI); (7) undertaken infrastructure resiliency efforts based on climate change, sea level rise, and severe weather events; (8) supported clean cars and electric vehicle legislation; and (9) invested in green jobs and clean energy.

From the op-ed:

In today’s world, far too much of our public discourse has degraded to half-truths and personal attacks rather than conversation and compromise. One obvious casualty has been the environment, which is now routinely used as a wedge instead of a common cause. Finding the right balance on environmental policy is important, but we all aspire to achieve the same goals — protecting and preserving the natural world we inhabit for our children and grandchildren.

Hogan called for finding “common ground” on environmental issues and taking “smart and balanced actions” to further environmental protection and promote economic growth.

 

Work Begins on First Sports and Recreation “Smart City” in the Nation

Source: Johnson Controls

A Sustainable Cities Network article (2017-08-09) reported that work is under way on the first sports and entertainment “smart city” in the nation. Johnson Controls has started development on the Hall of Fame Village LLC at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, and will be the largest construction project in the state. Johnson Controls is working in conjunction with the Hall of Fame and Industrial Reality Group. According to the article, the project began in 2016 and the village is expected to open in 2020 (for the National Football Leagues 100th anniversary) with final build-out occurring by 2040. The development is estimated to cost $700 million and will generate $15.3 billion in new revenue over a 25-year period. From the article:

A professional services contract calls for Johnson Controls’ products, services and solutions to be used within the Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village, including the museum. This will provide for the creation of a showcase “smart city” with the company providing a suite of building management systems to assure “world-class” environments and yield significant operational cost savings over the life of the agreement, according to the partners. …

Just as important are the smart technologies that will bring the village to life — technologies related to heating and cooling, fire and security, lighting, the fan experience and scoreboard, and a building- and campus-wide operating system. The operating system will allow window shades to adjust according to the movement of the sun, lights to dim as more natural light enters rooms, employees to control cubicle temperature and security cameras to capture faces of people entering and exiting buildings as identification badges appear on monitoring screens.

“Our innovative, integrated, technologies will provide the right combination of safety and security at the Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village in an environment that demonstrates how we connect ‘cities’ that run smartly and reliably,” said Kim Metcalf-Kupres, vice president and chief marketing officer, Johnson Controls.

The project will include the following facilities: (1) Hall of Fame Museum; (2) Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium; (3) Black College Football Hall of Fame; (4) National Youth Football and Sports Complex; (5) 25,000 square-foot four-star hotel and conference center; (6) Hall of Fame Promenade (a mixed-use restaurant, retail, and residential area); (7) The Center for EXCELLENCE (a coaches university); (8) performance center; (9) player care center; and (10) Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Experience (a $120 million virtual reality experience and waterpark).

Useful Links

Hall of Fame Village Website

Local Governments Spur Maryland Job Growth

In June 2017, Maryland’s local governments added 2,100 jobs – a big difference from the other states in the Mid-Atlantic region. Those states – Delaware, DC, Pennsylvania, and Virginia –  lost 6,200 local government jobs.

For the second straight month, Maryland’s unemployment fell by a tenth of a percent, reports Daraius Irani, Ph.D., Vice President, Division of Innovation and Applied Research and Chief Economist, Regional Economic Studies Institute (RESI), of Towson University. Maryland’s unemployment rate is 4.1 percent, while the rest of the Mid-Atlantic region maintains a constant rate of 4.6 percent.

According to Dr. Irani:

Maryland’s job growth was robust, with job losses only occurring in three industries:

  1. Manufacturing which lost 600 jobs,
  2. Trade, Transportation, and Utilities which lost 400 jobs, and
  3. Leisure and Hospitality which lost 100 jobs.

Job losses in Manufacturing are not especially surprising. …. The increase in automation has been changing employment in the industry for some time, and it doesn’t seem like the job losses are quite finished. …

Other strong sectors of growth for Maryland include Health Care and Social Assistance, which added 5,600 jobs last month. This dwarfs the total increase in neighboring states, who combined to only add 1,000 jobs in the sector in June. The healthcare industry has been one of Maryland’s employment bedrocks, and this does not look likely to change in the short term. However, this does mean that changes in the sector as a result of the ongoing debate over the ACA and AHCA could have large ripple effects in Maryland’s economy.

With job growth in Maryland booming – particularly for local governments – it is no wonder that this year’s theme for the MACo summer conference next week in Ocean City is “You’re Hired!”

Learn about how automation is changing county employment at the MACo summer conference session, Will Your Next County Employee be…a Robot?

Listen to public health experts discuss potential impacts of ACA and AHCA on Maryland counties at the session, ABCs of the ACA, AHCA, BCRA, and Health Care in Maryland.

And, see Dr. Irani himself, on the panel, Parks & Recreation: A Healthy (and Wealthy) Investment.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Worcester Considers Economics of New Sports Complex 

A new, wholly county-operated sports complex in Worcester County could generate about $500,000 annually in local revenues, according to an economic impact study commissioned by the county.

Crossroads Consulting Services presented the Worcester County Commissioners with a report detailing the potential costs and revenues associated the contemplated outdoor facility, which would cost $25-$30 million to build. It would operate at a loss of at least $136,000 a year.

The complex under consideration would include eight tournament-quality rectangular turf fields, support buildings and parking, on a property at least 40 acres in size.

The county commissioners are mulling it over, and have taken no further action thus far. If they decide to move forward, the next step is a second study that would outline potential design and construction costs.

Read more in The Dispatch.

Shannon Nazzal Named New Calvert County Parks & Rec Director

 

 

 

 

 

A Calvert County news release (2017-07-03) announced that Shannon Nazzal will become the director of the newly created Parks and Recreation Department for the County, starting on July 24. Nazzal will take over the County’s top recreation position from Parks and Recreation Division Chief Paul Meadows, who has served in that capacity since 1985. From the news release:

Shannon Nazzal (Source: Calvert County Government)

Nazzal was most recently the recreation administrator of the Martin County Florida Department of Parks and Recreation. During her five years with Martin County government, she was responsible for managing a $2.5 million budget and had oversight of the county’s recreation, athletics, summer camps, after school care, senior centers, community centers, equestrian center, special events, volunteers and facility rentals. A native Floridian, Nazzal has also held leadership positions in the parks and recreation departments for both Tallahassee and Homestead city governments in Florida.

“I’ve been in parks and recreation for more than 12 years and I thoroughly enjoy my career,” Nazzal shared. “It is my passion to serve the community.” She added she was instantly drawn to Calvert County during her interview process. “It is a beautiful area and I am thrilled to be joining the Calvert County government team and am thrilled my children will be enrolling into such a great school system.”

“We are excited to welcome Mrs. Nazzal to our team, and her family to Calvert County,” said board President Tom Hejl. “I am impressed with her strong enthusiasm. She has a clear understanding of government and the fact that we are public servants who are trusted stewards of our citizen’s tax dollars.”

Nazzal earned her master’s degree in Public Administration from Florida International University and a master’s degree in Physical Education from the Florida State University. She was the 19th person to become a certified parks and recreation executive through the National Recreation and Parks Association, of which she is also a member. Nazzal will relocate to Calvert County with her husband of 15 years, Mohamed and their 8-year-old daughter and 9-month-old son.

The [Board of County Commissioners] announced a reorganization plan in April 2017 designed to improve overall government operations and services to the public. Part of the reorganization included separating the Division of Parks and Recreation from the Department of General Services to form the Department of Parks & Recreation. The new department places stronger emphasis on program management and will absorb from the Department of General Services oversight of aquatics,  parks (including the Division of Natural Resources), recreation and the Chesapeake Hills Golf Course.

Learn how parks and recreation facilities can generate revenue and support local economic development  at the 2017 MACo Summer Conference panel “Parks & Recreation: A Healthy (and Wealthy) Investment.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Learn How Your Parks and Rec Facilities Can Earn You $$$ at #MACoCon

Learn how your parks and recreational facilities can be revenue generators for your county at the 2017 MACo Summer Conference.

Parks & Recreation: A Healty (and Wealthy) Investment

Description

Most local officials know about the positive physical and mental health benefits parks and recreational facilities provide. But you may not be aware of how properly developed and advertised facilities can support jobs and bring in revenue. Speakers will highlight how parklands and rec facilities can directly and indirectly create jobs, generate tourism opportunities, and offer ways to collect recreational revenue.

Speakers

  • Daraius Irani, PhD, Vice President, Division of Innovation and Applied Research, and Chief Economist, Regional Economic Studies Institute (RESI), Towson University
  • Steven Miller, Director of Recreation, Parks, & Tourism, Wicomico County

Moderator: The Honorable Dana Stein, Maryland House of Delegates

Date & Time: Thursday, August 17, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Wicomico County Generates Big $$$ With Youth Sports Facilities

A Delmarva Now article (2017-05-24) reported that Wicomico County will host the Athletx organization in 2018 for the Youth Baseball Nationals. This new week-long tournament is expected to generate $5 million in revenues and joins several existing high-profile events that the County hosts, such as the Governor’s Challenge basketball tournament and the USSSA Softball tournament. The article noted that that County and State are investing $3 million to expand the Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex which will host the tournament. From the article:

“We are now going to take that facility to the next level, and we’re very, very excited about that,” Director of Wicomico County Recreation, Parks & Tourism Steve Miller said. …

Jim Haddaway, CEO of Athletx said he was blown away by the new fields at Parker Complex and is committed to making it  a long-term home of these tournaments. …

With the new upgrades to the Parker Complex, paired with the general location and scenery of the surrounding area, Haddaway felt signing a contract with Wicomico County was a no-brainer.

“When I walked up this morning on this, I was blown away,” Haddaway said, standing on the turf field. “This turf looks beautiful, the surrounding area is gorgeous, you’re close to the beach – it has everything that we look for in a destination and we can’t be more than thrilled to bring our event here.”

The article discussed how the County has worked to attract several national events and the economic benefits they have brought. For example, the article noted that the USSA softball tournament has been in Wicomico County for the past 10 years and has annually averaged $17 million in benefits to the County economy. From the article:

“It’s important we retain the events we have, but we also want to expand. You look at the economic impact of those things and the numbers don’t lie. These events are on a national stage, we’re a small community on the Eastern Shore, but we’re attracting and retaining national caliber events, and that’s huge for our community,” Miller said. …

“We’re blessed in the state of Maryland that Wicomico County is the leader in the youth and amateur sports markets,” [Maryland Sports Executive Director Terry] Hasseltine said. “They are stalwarts in the community of Maryland; they’re also well-known and well-respected and appreciated on the national scene.”

While having the opportunity to play on a brand new field could be reason enough for some organizations to come to Wicomico, County Executive Bob Culver made sure Haddaway and other Athletx officials had the full “Eastern Shore experience” when pitching the idea to come to the Shore.

“We try to show them as much hospitality as we possibly can and give them the Wicomico hospitality treatment,” Culver said. “It’s showing that we are a player in a much larger scale in the state of Maryland.”

St. Mary’s Parks Director Brian Loewe Resigns

 

 

 

 

 

St. Mary’s County news release (2017-04-19) announced the immediate resignation of the County’s Recreation and Parks Director, Brian Loewe. From the release:

Brian Loewe, Director of St. Mary’s County Recreation and Parks, has resigned his position effective immediately.

Loewe headed the department since April 23, 2012 after arriving from Charles County, where he served in various positions, including Sports Program Coordinator and Parks Manager.

“I would like to thank St. Mary’s County Government for the opportunities that were provided to me over the past five years as director of Recreation and Parks,” said Loewe. “I’d like to thank the Recreation and Parks staff for their hard work and dedication during our time together.”

“I’m saddened to learn of Brian’s decision to resign as head of our Recreation and Parks department,” said Commissioner President Randy Guy. “Brian brought a number of innovative programs to the department and was a champion of recreation programs throughout the county. I join my fellow commissioners in thanking him for his service to St. Mary’s County and wish him well in his future endeavors.”

Former Recreation and Parks Manager Arthur Sheppard has agreed to serve as interim Recreation and Parks director effective April 24.

 

DLS 90 Day Report: Local Aid

The Department of Legislative Services (DLS) has released its annual summary of the legislative session, The 90 Day Report – A Review of the 2017 Legislative SessionThe report is divided into 12 parts, each dealing with a major policy area. It also includes information relating to the final operating and capital budgets, including aid to local governments – and a breakdown of aid to each county. 

County level detail of state aid is available here.

DLS lists “Direct Aid” to counties in two groups: Primary and Secondary Education, and all other aid programs. A full breakdown of all programs is available here: Total State Aid to Local Governments (Exhibit A-3.5)

This blog post directs readers to sections of the 90 Day Report which describe all other aid programs.

Libraries

This item includes the Library Formula and Library Network programs. The Report discusses funding for Local Libraries, including the Library Aid Program, for which the State funds 40 percent and counties fund 60 percent:

The State/local share of the minimum program varies by county depending on local wealth. The per resident amount is set at $15.00 for fiscal 2018 and is scheduled to increase to $16.70 annually, beginning in fiscal 2022. Fiscal 2018 funding totals $37.7 million, a $1.3 million increase compared to fiscal 2017. In addition, Baltimore City will receive $3.0 million to support expanded operations throughout the library system.

The State also provides funds through the Library Network program to libraries designated as resource centers and regional resource centers.

Community Colleges

This item includes the Community College Formula (Cade), Grants for English as a Second Language (ESOL) Programs, Optional Retirement, Small College Grants, and Other Community College Aid.

The Report discusses community colleges, which receive $235.2 million in fiscal 2018 through the Senator John A. Cade Formula, an increase of $779,600 over fiscal 2017 funding. In addition, the budget includes $4 million for one-time supplemental grants, to be divided among all 16 community colleges based on Cade funding formula-eligible enrollment. Also,

State funding in fiscal 2018 will total $4.1 million for the small college grants and $600,000 for the Allegany/Garrett counties unrestricted grants. Senate Bill 521 (passed) increases unrestricted grants to small colleges by approximately $1.7 million annually, beginning in fiscal 2019. Funding for statewide and regional programs will total $6.4 million. The English as a Second Language Program will receive $5.5 million, nearly level with the prior year.

Health Formula Grant

Local health departments receive $51.1 million, which level-funds the departments at fiscal 2017 levels, and provides an additional $1.6 million for increases in contractual health insurance costs in certain counties.

Transportation

Transportation aid listed in DLS’ county breakdowns includes highway user revenues to both the county and its municipalities, special transportation grants to both the county and its municipalities, elderly /disabled transportation grants, and paratransit grants.

In highway user revenues (HUR), $140.8 million (7.7% of HUR) is distributed to Baltimore City; $27.4 million (1.5%) is distributed to counties; and $7.3 million (0.4%) is distributed to municipalities, for a total of $175.5 million. The budget also provides special transportation grants to counties and municipalities of $38.4 million – $5.5 million for Baltimore City, $12.8 million for counties, and $20.1 million for municipalities. In addition, local governments receive $4.3 million in elderly /disabled transportation grants, and $1.7 million in paratransit grants.

Additional information on local transportation aid is available within the Report here.

Police and Public Safety

Police and public safety aid listed in DLS’ county breakdowns includes aid provided to municipalities, as well as the county.

The State fiscal 2018 budget level funds the police aid formula at the fiscal 2017 level of $73.7 million. In addition, State funding for targeted public safety grants will total $26.6 million in fiscal 2018. The Report details a handful of public safety grant programs available to local governments, including:

  • The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Fund, which funds grants for investigating Internet crimes against children ($2 million);
  • The Community Program Fund, which funds local government community and violence intervention programs ($500,000); and
  • The Vehicle Theft Prevention Fund, which enhances the prosecution and adjudication of vehicle theft crimes ($1.9 million).

This item may also include other grants, State’s Attorney’s Grants, and 9-1-1 Grants. 9-1-1 Emergency Systems Grants reimburse counties for improvements and enhancements to their 9-1-1 systems and are funded at $14.4 million.

Fire and Rescue Aid

Fire and rescue aid listed in DLS’ county breakdowns includes aid provided to municipalities, as well as the county. The Senator William H. Amoss Fire, Rescue, and Ambulance Fund, for local and volunteer fire, rescue, and ambulance services, is funded at $15 million.

Recreation and Natural Resources

According to the Report, the local share of Program Open Space (POS) funding changes in fiscal 2018:

Chapter 10 of 2016 altered the local share of POS funding beginning in fiscal 2018. The legislation allocated an additional $11.0 million to local funding for fiscal 2018. In future years, local funding through fiscal 2029 increases overall due to general fund appropriations to the transfer tax special fund (from which the local share of POS receives funding) representing reimbursement for prior transfers from the fund. In fiscal 2018, the POS formula allocates $37.2 million to the counties, which is an increase of $15.5 million over the fiscal 2017 amount. In addition, Baltimore City will receive $3.5 million in special POS funding.

The Report further details Program Open Space funding here.

Also, $7 million is included for the Department of the Environment to provide grants to local governments to provide enhanced nutrient removal at wastewater treatment facilities.

Disparity Grants

Disparity grants were level-funded by the Governor, then partially restored for some counties by the General Assembly. From the Report:

Disparity grants were initiated to address the differences in the abilities of counties to raise revenues from the local income tax, which is one of the larger revenue sources for counties. Counties with per capita local income tax revenues less than 75.0% of the statewide average receive grants, assuming that all counties impose a 2.54% local tax rate. Chapter 487 of 2009 capped each county’s funding under the program at the fiscal 2010 level. Chapter 425 further modified the program in order to provide a floor funding level in conjunction with the fiscal 2010 cap for an eligible county based on the income tax rate of that county. Beginning in fiscal 2014, an eligible county or Baltimore City may receive no more than the amount distributed in fiscal 2010 or a minimum of (1) 20.0% of the total grant if the local income tax rate is at least 2.8% but less than 3.0%; (2) 40.0% of the total grant if the rate is at least 3.0% but less than 3.2%; or (3) 60.0% of the total grant if the rate is set at 3.2%. The fiscal 2017 budget included $136.7 million in disparity grant funding; however, the Board of Public Works reduced total disparity grant funding to $132.8 million for fiscal 2017.

… Chapter 738 of 2016 altered the calculation of the Disparity Grant program for counties with a local income tax rate of 3.2% by increasing the minimum grant amount (funding floor) to 67.5% of the formula calculation in both fiscal 2018 and 2019. However, House Bill 152, modifies the formula by lowering the minimum grant amount (funding floor) from 67.5% to 63.75% of the formula calculation for fiscal 2018. Due to this action, funding for disparity grants will total $138.8 million in fiscal 2018.

Teachers Retirement Supplemental Grant

Grants totalling $27.7 million are distributed annually to nine counties to help offset the impact of sharing teachers’ retirement costs with the counties.

Gaming Impact Aid

From the proceeds generated by video lottery terminals at video lottery facilities in the State, generally 5.5% is distributed to local governments in which a video lottery facility is operating. … In addition, 5.0% of table game revenues are distributed to local jurisdictions where a video lottery facility is located. Gaming impact grants total $91.4 million in fiscal 2018, an increase of $24.6 million, or 36.9%, over fiscal 2017 levels, due to the opening of a casino in Prince George’s County in December 2016.

 

Other Direct Aid

Other direct aid may include aid from other programs such as those listed below, which are described in the Report:

Through the Maryland Forest Service and Maryland Park Service – Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) Program, counties receive 15 percent of the net revenues derived from their state forest or park land – in fiscal 2018, Forest Service payments to local governments total $282,900 and Park Service payments to local governments total $2.6 million.

The Senior Citizen Activities Center Operating Fund, a grant program through the Department of Aging for senior citizen activities centers, receives $764,000.

The Strategic Demolition Fund provides funding to assist with demolition, land assembly, housing development or redevelopment, and revitalization. Funding is awarded on a competitive basis to local governments and community development organizations. It receives $25.6 million, but $22.1 million is targeted for Baltimore City.

2017 End of Session Wrap Up: Parks & Recreation

This post summarizes the status of various parks and recreation bills that MACo took a position on for the 2017 Regular Session.

Program Open Space – Apportionment Committee: HB 105 would have reconstituted a local Program Open Space (POS) advisory committee that has not met in decades, specified that committee serves in an advisory capacity to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), required that the committee meet before the end of 2017 and then at least every five years thereafter, and clarified the factors and criteria the committee must consider when reviewing the local POS apportionment formula. The bill was the result of committee narrative found in the 2015 Joint Chairman’s Report.

Push Icons-NOT IDEALMACo Position: MACo supported HB 105, noting that the bill updates essentially obsolete sections of Maryland’s Code and creates an improved mechanism to review the local POS apportionment formula.

FINAL STATUS: HB 105 passed the House of Delegates but was given an unfavorable report by the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.

MACo Testimony on HB 105

Program Open Space – Local Fund Use Flexibility: HB 1438 / SB 896 would have allowed counties to shift local POS funding between land acquisition and facility projects if: (1) the project is consistent with and supports the goals, objectives, and priorities of a local governing body’s land preservation and recreation plan (LLPRP) and annual program; and (2) the plan determines that additional land acquisition is not merited. The bill also makes several corrective changes to the local POS statute.

As introduced SB 116 would have altered a provision of current law which allows a local jurisdiction that has met its POS land acquisition target to use 75 percent of its future POS apportionment for development projects for a period of 5 years after attainment (up to 20 percent of the authorized development funds may be used for capital renewal). SB 116 provided that 100 percent of funds may be used for development projects and capital renewal going forward.

Push Icons-NOT IDEALMACo Position: MACo supported HB 1438 / SB 896 for establishing a reasonable framework to provide greater flexibility on the use of POS funds while still supporting both land acquisition and recreational facilities development through the LPPRP, which establishes recreational goals and requirements similar to land use goals and requirements in a comprehensive plan. The bill would allow counties to maximize their funding effectiveness by adjusting projects based on current economic conditions and being better able to assist municipalities with their priority projects.

MACo also initially supported SB 116 as a different way to provide needed flexibility regarding local POS funding. MACo changed to a “no position” when the bill was amended to only affect Allegany and Garrett Counties.

FINAL STATUS: HB 1438 was withdrawn by the bill’s sponsor. The Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee gave SB 896 an unfavorable report.

The General Assembly passed SB 116 with amendments narrowing the bill to Allegany and Garrett Counties. As amended, the bill provides that a local jurisdiction may use up to 100 percent of its future annual POS apportionment for development projects and capital renewal if: (1) DNR and the Maryland Department of Planning certify that the acquisition goals in the jurisdiction’s approved LPPRP and the Maryland Land Preservation and Recreation Plan have been met; and (2) the jurisdiction has more than 65,000 acres of land within its boundaries consisting of State forests, parks, or wildlife management areas. The bill also requires the Joint Subcommittee on Program Open Space and Agricultural Land Preservation to create recommendations by October 1, 2018, on whether the State’s standard for land acquisition of 30 acres per 1,000 people should be adjusted to encourage the additional acquisition of land under POS.

MACo Testimony on HB 1438

MACo Testimony on SB 896

NOTE: There is no MACo written testimony for SB 116.

State Forests, Parks, and Wildlife Management Areas – Revenue Equity Program: As introduced, SB 273 would establish a Revenue Equity Program, which starting in FY 2019 would provide counties an annual payment of $250,000 for each unit of open space attributed to State forests, State parks, and wildlife management areas. One unit of open space is the equivalent of 10,000 acres. The payments replace monies that a county currently receives from a portion of revenues generated from State forests and parks. For FY 2019, a county must have a least seven units of open space to receive a payment. That drops to five units in FY 2020 and 3 units for FY 2021 and each fiscal year thereafter.

Push Icons-WONMACo Position: MACo supported the bill as a means to assist counties with large amounts of State land that is not subject to property taxes by creating an analog to a Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program. The existing revenue sharing system, which includes net revenues from concession operations, has been reduced significantly in recent years to balance the State’s budget.

FINAL STATUS: The General Assembly passed SB 273 with amendments limiting the scope and payment system in the bill. As amended the bill would establish a Revenue Equity Program for counties that: (1) have at least 65,000 acres of State forests, parks, and wildlife management areas; or (2) have at least 40,000 acres of State forests, parks, and wildlife management areas and a real property tax rate of at least $1.00 for each $100 of assessment.

Beginning in FY 2019, the State shall annually pay each qualifying county an amount equal to the county property tax rate multiplied by the assessed value, as determined by the State Department of Assessments and Taxation, of the State forests, parks, and wildlife management areas exempt from the county’s property tax. The bill further specifies what State properties are not included in the calculation and how the payment systems shall work.

MACo Testimony on SB 273