Jay Fergusonjay@deepcreekvacations.com301-501-0420

Commissioners retract proposed hotel/motel tax increase bill

Jay’s note: Even though the legislation would not have REQUIRED a rate increase, it still gave the commissioners authority to raise it at any time. I agree with Nancy Railey’s take on this, as every dollar spent would be one less dollar that is spent on local goods, dining, souvenirs, and typical ‘fun’ things you do while on vacation. Just like everyone else, the commissioners will have to learn to not spend so much money and budget during these lean times. $1.5 million (what they currently receive) is a pretty good chunk of change for merely an accomodations tax.

Megan Miller
Cumberland Times-News

OAKLAND — The Garrett County Commission retracted one of its legislative requests for the 2010 session Thursday, citing concerns by local businesses that the measure would negatively impact the county’s tourism industry.

The commission had requested legislation that would have enabled it to increase the hotel rental tax from 5 percent to a maximum of 8 percent. That increase would not have been implemented all at once, but in increments and as needed, said County Administrator Monty Pagenhardt.

“Back in November when we presented our legislative list to Delegate (Wendell) Beitzel and Sen. (George) Edwards, the plan was to increase the tax to 6 percent for fiscal 2011, which would have generated more than $300,000 for the county,” Pagenhardt said. The money would have been used to fund economic development and tourism, as required by state statutes, he explained.

But Pagenhardt said the commission unanimously agreed to retract the legislative request after hearing concerns from businesses that the measure would hurt the county’s tourism industry, driving down income from vacation rentals.

“The commissioners reviewed data presented by rental companies, and just decided it wasn’t the right time to do it,” Pagenhardt said.

At the Nov. 17 meeting where the commissioners presented their legislative wish list, Nancy Railey of Railey Mountain Lake Vacations gave a presentation opposing the tax increase. Railey told the commissioners at that time that visitors would probably still travel to Garrett County if the tax was increased, but each dollar they had to spend on taxes would be a dollar they wouldn’t spend on local goods and services.

It’s the second year in a row the enabling legislation has been requested but not passed. It was introduced in the 2009 General Assembly but died in committee because of what Beitzel said was an administrative mistake in Annapolis.

For now, the hotel rental tax rate will remain at 5 percent, the highest it can go under the existing legislation. The tax currently brings in about $1.5 million per year to the county.

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Long & Foster Real Estate for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350



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