The additional revenue would go for agricultural preservation.
Frederick, Md (KM). The Frederick County Council on Tuesday night heard nearly two hours of testimony on a bill to raise the recordation tax rate. The measure would increase the levy by $1.00 to $7.00 per $500 of consideration. The boost in the tax rate is expected to bring $6.8-million in new revenue which would go toward agricultural preservation
The proposal comes from County Executive Jan Gardner who says the extra money is needed to purchase more easements from farmers so their lands aren’t lost to development.
The legislation has the support of the Frederick County Farm Bureau, whose Chairman is Sam Roop. “Frederick County residents value our rich history and our agriculture heritage,” he said. “Frederick County is a leader in agricultural preservation in the country, and has a longstanding goal to permanently preserve a minimum of 100,000 acres of agricultural land.”
Also supporting the legislation was Mayor Debbie Burgoyne of Burkittsville, whose town is surrounded by farmland. “Living where we live, we see first hand not only how beautiful it is, but how necessary it is,” she said.
The recordation tax is a one-time charge levied on property transactions. Amanda Addington, the President of the Frederick County Realtors Association, opposes this increase. She said realtors are not against agricultural preservation, but feel this hike in the tax rate will make homes less affordable. “A home purchase in Frederick has tens of thousands of dollars in up front costs including down payments, closing costs and taxes,” she said. “Even when using every form of buyer assistance available, it’s often not enough. Those difficulties exist right now, and this bill will add to them.”
Also opposed is Frederick Alderwoman Kelly Russell. “At the current rate, the recordation tax on a home purchase or refinance valued at $300,000 is $3600. The purchaser must pay half of this tax, $1800 up front and in cash,” she said. “With the proposed tax increase, this same transaction costs $4200, increasing the buyers share by $300. This scenario does not best serve our mutual goal of more affordable housing.”
But Joel Anderson, a farmer from Thurmont, says a lot of agricultural land is being lost to development. “We are eating up this county slowly. And if we don’t buy the development right and preserve for it in perpetuity, we are going to lose it. It’s that simple,” he said
Council President MC Keegan-Ayer said a vote on this bill could come next week.
By Kevin McManus