Frederick County Council Approves Home Day Care Tax Credit

Supporters say it’s designed to alleviate shortage of home  day care centers.

Frederick, Md (KM) A tax credit for home day care providers was adopted Tuesday night by the Frederick County Council.    Under the legislation, property owners who make improvements to their homes to accommodate day care operations would receive a credit not to exceed $3,000. The legislation is designed to encourage more property owners to make improvements to their homes to allow for more local day care centers.

Councilman Steve McKay voted against it. He said he really wanted to support it, but didn’t think it would entice too many homeowners to participate. “I agree there’s no downside,” McKay said. “But it bothers me a bit that the upside may be a little inflated here because I just don’t see what difference it’s going to make. Again, not the fault of the bill writer. This is how it’s structured.”

The legislation is co-sponsored by Councilwoman Renee Knapp, who acknowledges that the $3,000 tax credit isn’t a lot of money. “If we start here, then we have a place to move forward on. And it’s not like the program would not have value. Three-thousand dollars is not nothing. And I think that it would definitely make a difference and it’s something we could expand on as we look at other options as well,” she said.

She also noted that the county can only offer the $3,000 credit under state law.

In his comments, Councilman Mason Carter said he supports using tax credits to encourage more businesses, such as home day care centers, to expand,. But he also said the $3,000 isn’t enough. “The credit is only enforced after or imposed after an improvement increases your assessed value,”  he said. “Which means that, for example, you would need to put an addition on your home to get this tax credit.”

Councilwoman M.C. Keegan-Ayer voted in favor. She said this bill “sends a message to the community that we do hear what’s you’re saying. We do know there is a problem. We are trying to find various ways to fix it. This one may not be perfect for you. But we are open and entertaining other options,” she said.

In the background materials that came with this bill, co-sponsors Knapp and Council President Brad Young noted that in September, 2023, an estimated 69,055 kids in Maryland were expected to   lose their childcare as number of childcare providers is expected to decrease. The background materials  also cite the Maryland Association of Counties which says the loss in revenue to businesses is predicted to be $10.6 billion annually as parents reduce their work hours and possibly leave the workforce to take care of their children.

Amusement Tax

Earlier in the meeting, Council President Brad Young announced a bill to bring back the admissions and amusement tax to Frederick County had been pulled from the Council’s agenda. The County Executive is revising the measure which  would impose a five-percent levy on amusements such as movies, amusement park rides, miniature  golf and other activities. It would exempt activities by volunteer fire companies and agri-tourism businesses.

There was strong opposition expressed to the bill during a public hearing late last month.

Reports say the County Executive is looking at how this tax could impact activities put on by public schools and local colleges.

By Kevin McManus