Frederick County Council Repeals Current Admissions & Amusement Tax Law

But it will take up a measure next month to increase the levy by ten percent.

Frederick, Md (KM) In a five-to-two vote on Tuesday, the Frederick County Council approved a bill to repeal the local admissions and amusement tax. But elected officials are expected to take up a resolution next month to set the tax rate at ten percent.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Chief Administrative Officer John Peterson told the Council it couldn’t just increase the tax. The law, which sets up the current admissions and amusement tax, was adopted by a previous Board of County Commissioners, and it must be repealed if elected officials want to bring this levy back. “Initially, there was some confusion that it could be a one-step process of repeal and replace and it can’t,” he said. “It needs to be a full repeal at this point. And at a future time, we may come back with a subsequent request  for enabling legislation.”

In 2013, the last Board of County Commissioners reduced the admissions and amusement tax rate to zero percent.

Councilman Steve McKay voted against the legislation to repeal. “This first, recognizing all it does is repeal a piece of code which sets the tax at zero, is the predicate and the necessary first step to increase this tax.,” he said.

In his comments, Council President Brad Young said the bill only repeals the current law. “This gets rid of the tax. It has to be another vote to bring it back and set it or whatever it would be. And that’s where those conversations come into play, ” he said.

The fiscal year 2024 budget approved last week contains provisions for bringing back the admissions and amusement tax which could generate $1.6-million dollars. The levy would be imposed on people who  go to movie theaters, amusement park rides, athletic events and other venues. The revenues will be used to provide grants to the creative community.

A resolution setting the admissions and amusement tax at ten percent is tentatively expected to be considered by the Council on July 18th.

Quantum Loophole

The Council also heard from some citizens regarding the situation with Quantum Loophole. It was revealed recently that the company,  which is building data centers at a site along Manor Woods Road in Adamstown, had dumped contaminated water into Tuscarora Creek which empties into the Potomac River.

Steve Black, the President of the Sugarloaf Alliance, said a lot of children swim in the Potomac. “This was known to Frederick County going into Memorial Day weekend. Memorial Day Weekend, on a hot weekend day,” he said. “Who do you think was playing in that contaminated water. And there still has not been a peep from the County or the County Health Department. This is horrendous travesty.”

He said Quantum Loophole dumped an estimated 72,000 gallons of contaminated water daily into Tuscarora Creek, which adds up about 2.5-million gallons per month.

Quantum Loophole is building data centers at the former Eastalco site on Manor Woods Road, where aluminum was processed. As a result, the groundwater and the soil were contaminated. Construction has been put on a temporary hold at Quantum Loophole.

Steve Poteet charged that the County overlooked this problem of dumping contaminated water into Tuscarora Creek in return for tax revenue data centers could potentially generated. But He noted that the Fannie Mae Property in Urbana paid $900,000 in taxes for fiscal year 2023. “Now, $900,000 is a considerable amount. But compare it to the fiscal ’24 Frederick County government approved budget which you know will be about $900-million. Any data center will contribute about one-tenth of one-percent to the County’s fiscal year ’24 budget,” he said.

By Kevin McManus