Property Owners’ Association: State Money For Garrett County

February 7, 2017

Folks,

The State (DNR) owns approximately 90,000 acres of land in Garrett County which is not subject to property taxes for the county due to state ownership.  The current means to recoup some of the lost property taxes is to provide the county with 25% of the revenue obtained from the sale of timber on this land.  For the last several years, however, very little timber has been harvested so the revenue coming to Garrett County has been very low.  This process currently exists throughout Maryland for all counties in which the state owns land that cannot be taxed.
To remedy this situation and insure a fair amount of revenue, consistent with the amount of acreage owned by the state, this bill will provide a more equitable reimbursement of funds to Garrett County for land owned by the State of Maryland. The proposed bill breaks down the acreage into “units” of 10,000 acres and would mandate $250,000 per unit income to the county annually.  SB273 will make the County’s reimbursement approximately $2 million annually. SB273 is being heard by the Senate Budget & Taxation Committee on Wednesday, February 15 at 1:00 p.m. Please send written testimony to George.edwards@senate.state.md.us by February 14, asking the Budget & Taxation Committee to give SB273 a FAVORABLE REPORT, and indicate if you plan to testify in person. Senate Bill 273 (SB 273) may be seen here. The existing system related to timber would no longer be used.
Your POA supports this bill because it is a fair way to reimburse the county for taxes that currently cannot be collected, and asks that you consider sending a written testimony  of endorsement.
Thanks very much in advance for your support on this bill which, if passed, will insure Garrett County is fairly reimbursed for uncollectable tax revenue.

  Cheers,

Bob Hoffmann

President

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State Panel Puts Fracking Regulations on Hold in Maryland

A panel of lawmakers in Maryland has reportedly asked the state Department of the Environment (MDE) to delay implementing rules governing hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

According to reports, the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review (AELR) sent a letter to the MDE last Thursday. Lawmakers on the committee said they wanted more time to study the agency’s proposed rules, which were scheduled to take effect the next day.

Only two western panhandle counties in Maryland — Allegany and Garrett — overlie the Marcellus Shale, a basin which the U.S. Geological Survey estimates could contain as much as 2.383 Tcf of technically recoverable natural gas.

The Maryland General Assembly, which meets for 90 days during its regular session, is scheduled to reconvene on Jan. 11 and adjourn on April 10. The session could also be extended until May 10.

The MDE submitted its proposed fracking regulations to the AELR last September. The proposed rules included a 2,000-foot setback for well pads from private drinking water wells and the surface water intake of public drinking water systems and springs; one year of baseline water monitoring; well integrity and pressure testing; and requirements covering air quality, emergency response, wastewater management, well plugging and bonding.

Fracking opponents are pushing for an outright ban. A two-year moratorium on the practice, which took effect after lawmakers passed SB 409 in 2015, is set to expire on Oct. 1.

“Our neighbors talk about putting their properties on the market if fracking is permitted,” Friends of Deep Creek Lake, an environmental group opposed to fracking, told the AELR at a hearing last month. “Such actions would be devastating to the local economy and in the long term would not be offset by fracking-related revenues.”

Supporters of oil and gas development in Maryland aren’t thrilled with the MDE’s proposed regulations, either.

“We are an industry that has a proven record of providing environmental and economic benefits,” Drew Cobbs, executive director of the Maryland Petroleum Council, said last month. “As written, a number of the proposed regulations are overly restrictive and would undermine our proven track record on safety proven through the development of millions of wells.

“We need policies that protect jobs and investment in Western Maryland, and these new regulations would take us in the wrong direction.”

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Extend the fracking ban

Marylanders have long held serious misgivings about the use of hydraulic fracturing to drill for natural gas, and we have shared those concerns. Under the administrations of both Gov. Larry Hogan and his predecessor, Martin O’Malley, there have been efforts by the Maryland Department of the Environment to adopt what Democrats and Republicans alike have vowed would be the strictest fracking regulations in the country. Yet over and over again, there have been doubts about whether the protections involved — to ensure clean drinking water supplies and preserve Western Maryland’s scenic resources — would be adequate.

The most recent rules, as drafted by the Hogan administration and now under review, are no different. And as the nation’s natural gas glut continues — to the extent that even oil industry advocates doubt that Maryland is likely to attract much drilling even if a temporary ban on fracking is lifted — many are asking, why risk fracking at all?

We agree. It’s a bad bet. When members of the Maryland General Assembly reconvene next month, high on the agenda should be making permanent the temporary moratorium on fracking that is set to expire next year. Fracking advocates have failed to make the case that the economic value of recovering gas from the Marcellus Shale deposits outweighs the potential economic and environmental harm that accompanies it.

And it’s highly likely that a majority of Maryland residents agree with that position. That was the conclusion of a recent poll conducted by OpinionWorks for the Don’t Frack Maryland Coalition, which found support for a fracking ban even in Western Maryland. In all, the survey determined that state residents favored a ban by a 56-28 margin with 16 percent undecided.

This is not a position we take lightly. Western Maryland has an unemployment rate above the statewide average — between 4.4 and 5.2 percent by county compared to the statewide average of 4.0 percent. But it is also highly dependent on tourism, with scenic attractions like Deep Creek Lake, the Youghiogheny River, Swallow Falls State Park, the C&O Canal and many others that are a key part of the state’s $16.4 billion visitor business. Even if fracking doesn’t cause immediate harm to any of those attractions, how might public perception of the region change?

Still, it isn’t just a matter of image. The risks posed by fracking are real. Often, the problem is the method of disposal for wastewater from well injection sites — the technology involves forcing a mixture of water, chemicals and sand under high pressure into underground rock to release trapped gas — and its impact on local groundwater. In neighboring West Virginia, for example, the U.S. Geological Survey found Wolf Creek in Fayette County contaminated with sodium, chloride, strontium, lithium and radium traced to a nearby underground well.

But that’s not all. The potential adverse impacts include damage to human health, clean air and water; excessive noise pollution and even microearthquakes. That doesn’t mean fracking can’t be done relatively safely compared to, say, coal mining or logging, which have also operated in Western Maryland, but it does mean that the potential for adverse impacts, even accidental ones, is quite high — the sheer volume of water required (as much as 7 million gallons to frack a single well) practically dictates that.

And even if Maryland dropped the moratorium and adopted the MDE rules, it’s unlikely there’s going to be any gold rush to purchase or extend gas leases. That’s what makes an outright ban the safest possible wager — the resource won’t be going away; it will remain buried in those shale deposits like a savings account. If at some future date, the risk is more manageable and the demand for the resource is more robust, perhaps the moratorium can be revisited. In the interim, Maryland will learn more from the mistakes of neighboring states.

That makes a ban on fracking a win-win for everyone, except perhaps the U.S. oil and gas industry. But even they may not complain too much given the multitude of more pressing problems from falling demand and low prices to high production from Middle East competitors. If Maryland earns a national reputation for being ultra-cautious about its precious water resources, so much the better.

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NEW TIMESHARE: 22181 GARRETT HIGHWAY #2

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Centrally located lakefront condo in the heart of this four season resort. This condo is fully furnished & ready for your use. Dockslip included. Member of Interval International Exchange Company. You can use it, rent or exchange it. Week #8 is late February, prime ski season.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CLICK HERE.

Obituary: Jim Delligatti / Pittsburgh-area McDonald’s franchisee who created Big Mac

Rest in Peace Jim Delligatti, a true Deep Creek Lake all-star. His family owns the Honi-Honi Bar, Uno’s, Arrowhead Market and the Garrett 8 movie theatre.

Before it became the single-greatest-selling sandwich in the history of the world; before it became an actual economic index scrutinized by professors and policy-makers; before it became a symbol of the American appetite; even before it became the subject of an unforgettable tongue-twisting advertising jingle, the Big Mac was the product of the ingenuity of a Western Pennsylvanian.

Michael James “Jim” Delligatti, 98, of Fox Chapel died Monday. He really was the local man who made it big — a big sandwich, a big American statement, and a big caloric load (550 calories — including the special sauce — roughly a quarter of the recommended daily allowance, in fact).

Mr. Delligatti also later came up with the concept of breakfast at McDonald’s.

“Jim was a legendary franchisee within McDonald’s system who made a lasting impression on our brand,” McDonald’s said in a statement. “We will remember Jim as an insightful franchisee, a knowledgeable businessman, and an honorable gentleman who left a legacy of four generations of family members running great restaurants in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.”

A native of Uniontown, he was an Army sergeant in the European Theater during World War II. When he returned home, he hitchhiked across the country, from Pittsburgh to California, where he worked at drive-ins and carhops. He eventually brought that experience back to Pittsburgh and, with business partner John Sweeney, in 1953 opened Delney’s — a drive-in on McKnight Road.

In 1955, he traveled to Chicago for a restaurant convention. Fatefully, it was the only year that Ray Kroc and McDonald’s had a booth at the show.

“He thought he could do better with some costs, so he signed up with them to open a franchise in Western Pennsylvania,” his son, Michael Delligatti, said. That first location also opened on McKnight Road, in 1957. In the same kitchen, at age 49, Mr. Delligatti created the signature sandwich that’s left an indelible grease stain on American pop culture and sated billions of hungry bellies the world over.

“He’d opened some restaurants at that point, and he was looking to improve and gain more sales,” his son said. “He wanted to create a larger sandwich that people would really like. He asked McDonald’s and they turned him down several times. Finally, they said OK.

“He was fooling around and came up with the Big Mac. But the buns he had wouldn’t work because the meat would slide around. So he went to a local bakery and got a double cut bun with sesame seeds, which was more visually appealing.”

He spent a few weeks developing the special sauce. “We’re all sworn to secrecy on that,” Michael Delligatti said with a chuckle.

Mr. Delligatti sold the first Big Macs (originally called “The Aristocrat” and the “Blue Ribbon Burger”) for 45 cents in 1967 in his McDonald’s in Uniontown. McDonald’s corporate officials liked it and did a test market in all Pittsburgh-area stores. The product went national a year later and since has reached sales in the tens of billions.

The famous advertising jingle — “twoallbeefpatties …” — was created in 1974 by Keith Reinhard, chairman of the New York ad agency DDB Worldwide.

In 1986, The Economist magazine created “the Big Mac Index” as an informal way to compare foreign currency values against the U.S. dollar. Based on the theory of purchasing-power parity, which says that exchange rates should equalize the price of a purchased item in any two countries, the index uses just one item — a Big Mac — because it is available in more than 100 countries.

Mr. Delligatti would go on to own 48 franchises, and although he sold most of them back to the company in 1982, his family still runs 21 in Western Pennsylvania. Though fast food has been maligned for its association with an unhealthy lifestyle, in 2007, on the 40th anniversary of the Big Mac, Mr. Delligatti told the Post-Gazette that he still ate at least one a week — at age 89.

That year the McDonald’s Big Mac Museum Restaurant opened on Route 30 in North Huntingdon; it features a 14-by-12-foot replica of the burger.

“He was an awesome dad. He liked to do a lot of different things. He was a great pingpong player. He liked to water ski and did some snow skiing. He was a real go-getter,” Mr. Delligatti said of his father, who continued to work regularly well into his 90s.

He was also a philanthropist. In 1979, he, along with Pittsburgh oncologist Vincent Albo and the Pittsburgh Steelers, helped co-found the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Pittsburgh, which provides lodging to the families of seriously ill children undergoing treatment at area hospitals. Today, the house is attached to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC in Lawrenceville.

He is survived by his wife, Ellie Delligatti; sons James and Michael; and five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Visitation is from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. today and Friday at the Devlin Funeral Home in West View.

The funeral Mass is at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Joseph’s Parish in O’ Hara. Memorial contributions may be made to the Pittsburgh Ronald McDonald House or to Providence Connections, a North Side social services agency.

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Deep Creek Lake and Garrett County, Maryland Experience Highest Tourism Revenue in State

In the first quarter of fiscal year 2017 (July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017), Garrett County experienced the highest increase in the state in tourism sales tax revenues, nearly twice the tourism increases posted by the state of Maryland.  The Garrett County Chamber of Commerce, the designated tourism marketing organization for the county, attributes much of the increase to the Chamber’s aggressive marketing plan with concentrated efforts and new ad strategies.

According to the Maryland Office of Tourism, in the first three months of Fiscal Year 2017 (July, August & September 2016), Maryland grew tourism sales tax revenues 3.0%, while Garrett County grew tourism sales tax revenues 5.8% during the same time period. Maryland grew lodging sales tax code collections 5.5% in the first three months of FY17, while Garrett County grew lodging sales tax collections 7.8%.

Garrett County experienced similar increases in fiscal year 2016 (July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016). According to the Maryland Office of Tourism, in fiscal year 2016, Maryland grew tourism sales tax revenues 6.4%, while Garrett County grew tourism sales tax revenues 7.0% during the same time period. Maryland grew lodging sales tax code collections 6.3% in FY16 while Garrett County grew lodging sales tax collections 9%.

“We are very pleased to see a strong first quarter for FY17 as we approach the winter season that is extremely weather dependent,” said Nicole Christian, president & CEO of the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce. “It is exciting to be leading the state in tourism growth but we are very aware that we have to continue our robust and innovative marketing efforts to remain competitive. We hope the State Office of Tourism will continue their efforts as well and that the Governor will maintain his support of this important industry by increasing tourism promotion funding for the Tourism Development Board.”

2016 has been a record year for tourism in the Deep Creek Lake area and Garrett County, Maryland with a 6.3% increase in county accommodations sales, a 19.3% increase in heads on beds, a 2.3% increase in sales tax collections and a 23% increase in visitors to the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce’s website, visitdeepcreek.com.

 

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Deep Creek Lake and Garrett County, Maryland Experience Record Increases in Tourism

2016 has been a record year for tourism in the Deep Creek Lake area and Garrett County, Maryland with a 6.3% increase in county accommodations sales, a 19.3% increase in heads on beds, a 2.3% increase in sales tax collections and a 23% increase in visitors to the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce’s website, visitdeepcreek.com.

The increases follow a banner 2015 in Deep Creek Lake and Garrett County, which saw a 3.1% increase in county accommodations sales, a 2.5% increase in sales tax collections and a 46% increase in visitors to the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce’s website, visitdeepcreek.com.

The Chamber attributes much of the increase to the Chamber’s aggressive marketing plan with concentrated efforts and new ad strategies.

And, according to the Maryland Office of Tourism, Garrett County’s increases have even outpaced Maryland’s tourism growth. In Fiscal Year 2016 (July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016), Maryland grew tourism sales tax revenues 6.4%, while Garrett County grew tourism sales tax revenues 7.0% during the same time period. Maryland grew lodging sales tax code collections 6.3% in FY16 while Garrett County grew lodging sales tax collections 9%.

“Tourism is an economic engine for Garrett County and we are pleased to see that this engine continues to churn out additional revenues and business for our community,” said Nicole Christian, president & CEO of the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce. “Even with Mother Nature being less than cooperative last winter and an abbreviated ski season, Garrett  County’s overall tourism sales tax revenues still outpaced the state’s growth. We attribute this continued growth to our aggressive marketing efforts.”

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