The new levy takes affect Feb. 1st, 2013.
Frederick County's Admissions and Amusement Tax rate is coming down. The Commissioners on Thursday voted 4-1 to reduce the levy from the current 5% to 0%. The new rate takes affect on February 1st, 2014.
"It's a good example of how you start a tax, and it grows into something that was never meant to be," says Commissioner Billy Shreve, who cast one of the "yes" votes.
The Admissions and Amusement Tax began in 1936 by the State to raise revenue to fund Maryland's welfare program during the Great Depression. In 1947, the state began distributing revenue from this tax to counties and municipalities. Since 1971, it's been a local tax which the State Comptroller's Office collects on behalf of local governments.
The tax is levied on such activities as movie tickets, coin-operated amusements, golf cart rentals, greens fees, driving ranges, miniature golf and amusement park rides.
It's imposed in the unincorporated areas of the county, as well as the towns of Myersville, Burkittsville and Rosemont. The other cities and towns have their own Admissions and Amusement taxes, and Commissioners' action doesn't affect them.
The lone "no" vote was cast by Commissioner David Gray, who was concerned about the loss of revenue by the county and how it could negatively impact the structural deficit. "Almost a million dollars worth of revenue, which increases the burden on the taxpayer," says Gray.
The Finance Division says the county could lose $774,000 in revenue in fiscal year 2014.
Commissioner Kirby Delauter says he proposed the idea of reducing this tax. "I asked the question to the Finance Department: 'why are we taxing golf carts? Why are we taxing green fees, Putt-Putt Golf, and movie theaters and everything else?' And the answer I got was 'because we can.' It wasn't about the structural deficit, it wasn't covering anything," he says.
Commissioner Paul Smith voted in favor, although he had some concerns, particularly about lost revenue. "It does mean this will put more pressure on the property tax, and that's something to be considered," says Smith.
The Commissioners' vote doesn't mean the tax itself goes away. They still have the authority to impose the levy, and could increase the rate from 0% if they choose to do so in the future.