Frederick County Executive Meets With Chamber Regarding Proposed Admissions Tax

She listened to concerns about the impact of the levy it it’s adopted.

Frederick, Md (KM) It was a way of disagreeing without being disagreeable. During a recent appearance on WFMD’s “Morning News Express,” Frederick County Chamber of Commerce President Rick Weldon discussed a proposal to bring back the admissions and amusement tax.

The tax had been in effect for a number of years. Many municipalities have it. Patrons of movie theaters, athletic events, amusement park rides, those who rent golf carts, go to driving ranges or other venues pay that tax on top their admission price The tax is collected by the Maryland Comptroller’s Office and distributed to the local jurisdictions.

The Last Board of County Commissioners reduce the tax rate from five percent to zero percent.

County Executive Jessica Fitzwater has proposed bringing it back at a rate of ten percent.  It would only cover the unincorporated areas of the county as a number of municipalities in Frederick County already have this levy.

Weldon, who worked with Fitzwater’s  transition team, says he knew there was a time when he might disagree with the incoming County Executive on some issues. “I knew from the moment we did that work that there would come a item where I would be finding myself in opposition she wanted to do,”: he said. “So part of her budget preparation this year include a ten percent admissions and amusement tax.”

He said some chamber members are concerned that this tax will have an impact on their businesses. “I knew this was going to be an issue. So I approached the County Executive and said ‘look, can I get some of my members together and have you come, listen to what they have to say.’ And I wasn’t sure how she’d react because I know she wanted to do this. Do you know what she said? ‘Yeah, get ’em all together,'” Weldon said.

A meeting was set up. “She showed up. She promised us an hour. She stayed for an hour and 20 minutes. She waited until every single business had a chance to explain the impact it  was going to have. And then she said ‘I’m going to take this and go back,'” Weldon said.

Weldon says this proves that in many instances, we can at least get elected officials to listen. “I’m not sure we would have always gotten that from county government, that level of ‘look I want to hear what you have to say.” I do think it works. And I think part of that is you temper how you fight, and you don’t bring out the guns and chains and knives until you absolutely have to. You try to find a way to be more positive in how you convey information and I think that’s worked,” he says.

In June, the County Council repealed the law setting up an admissions and amusement tax. The panel was expected to vote on a resolution to set the tax rate at ten percent.

By Kevin McManus