Prince George’s County’s budgetary issues has it seeking new means of tax income from attracting more businesses to perhaps building a new casino. The latest idea to come from Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker is to raise a tax on home sales.

The recordation tax would be raised to generate more income for the county. It was raised four years ago as well.

Given the county’s current financial predicament and the uncertainty with the budget situation in Annapolis, this is seen as a necessary move to solidify Prince George’s finances.

However, the Prince George’s County Association of Realtors has drafted a letter to send to Baker and members of the county council explaining why the tax could do more damage to the county.

“Upfront buyer closing costs including recordation fees, transfer taxes, property taxes, down payments and lender fees are the largest impediment to homeownership,” the letter said.

“Unfortunately, the county is experiencing a very challenging housing market. Increasing housing costs is counterproductive to rebuilding our local economy and a barrier to stabilizing our local real estate market,” it continued.

While this conversation is taking place in Upper Marlboro, officials in the county are still focused on what’s to take place at the State House with the special session.

County officials are already making appeals to Gov. O’Malley and legislators in Annapolis to prevent a doomsday budget situation. Prince George’s County Public Schools Superintendent William Hite, Ed.D., joined with CEO Andres Alonso,Ed.D., of Baltimore City Public Schools and Superintendent Joshua Starr, Ed.D., of Montgomery County Public Schools to request that the special session in Annapolis be used to get the budget done.

“Our districts, combined, educate more than one-third of Maryland’s students and, within that, nearly two-thirds of the African American and Hispanic students in the state and more than half of the students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals,” the three men wrote in a letter. “The elimination of $93 million in GCEI funding would disproportionately harm our students, our ability to continue to narrow achievement gaps for those students who are minorities and poor, and student performance for the state as a whole.”

Meanwhile, Del. Melonie G. Griffith, D.-Dist. 25, said the county needs to focus on health care infrastructure and that would bring much needed relief for the county’s stressed pockets.

“Imagine this vision for Prince George’s: a new, $600 million health-care system that’s poised to grow and capi¬tal¬ize as medicine advances for decades to come,” she wrote in an op-ed piece in the Washington Post. “A large new source for primary care, specialists, inpatient care and surgery. An emergency center equipped to handle cases from across southern and central Maryland. An influx of businesses from suppliers to medical practices to restaurants and shops. Hundreds of good jobs, with more being created all the time. Bright career opportunities for our young people. Better care for Prince George’s residents.”


George Barnette

Special to the AFRO