There have been a number of amendments filed to CB42-2019 (the Howard County School Surcharge Bill)…and wow did it cause a bit of a stir online yesterday afternoon and evening. Here are just a few posts I have seen on the subject:

Councilmember Deb Jung posted:

Amendments to CB42 (school surcharge bill) have been pre-filed.
https://apps.howardcountymd.gov/olis/LegislationDetail.aspx…

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Hiruy Hadgu publicly posted:

Amendments for CB42-2019 to raise Howard County’s school facilities surcharge fees are posted.

The giveaways are a doozy.

This is the most glaring and bold example of developer subsidy this year. It is right out of the developers playbook.

Amendments 1 to 3 are by Councilpersons Rigby and Jung. Taken together they could the potential revenue by up to $230 million over 10 years.

Amendment 4 is by Councilperson Jones. I call this one the “Howard Hughes Kickback”. It would give just one developer nearly $10 million over ten years.

Amendment 5 and 6 is by Councilperson Yungmann. It’s the most devastating. It can reduce revenues by up to $460 million.

See…corporate-giveaways are bipartisan.

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Lisa Markovitz publicly posted:

Check out amendments to CB42 which FINALLY increases developer fees in HoCo. Lots of grandfathering, and exemptions. The most shocking is Opel Jones’ amendment 4 which has Downtown Columbia’s thousands of units coming in future years to pay HALF the increase!! Hope the Council does the right thing and doesn’t forego all those millions for the School System. #hocopolitics #hocoMD #StopSpeciaLInterestBenefits

See amendments here: https://apps.howardcountymd.gov/olis/LegislationDetail.aspx…

Email Council – CounciLMail@howardcountyMD.gov

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Councilmember David Yungmann posted:

I have filed two amendments to the school facilities surcharge bill (CB-42), which as predicted are being erroneously labeled giveaways to the development industry. As I’ve stated previously, I support a significant increase in the school “impact fee” to address the under supply of school capacity we’ve inherited. Our rate increase of 500% will go far to address that one issue but has other implications that we need to balance.

Grandfathering. All this amendment does is tie this fee increase to the standard grandfathering for changes in zoning and subdivision regulations found in Section 16.102(h) of the existing Code. Plus, reflecting what we’ve learned from mistakes of the past, development must occur within two years or the grandfathering will expire.

Phase-In. Markets respond poorly to sudden extreme changes. An increase in fees will not yield the revenue we need if economic activity declines due to a sudden market shift. In this case, the short-term effect will be increased home prices, with the long-term impact being a reduction in land values. This phase-in will allow markets to adjust so we don’t take a tax revenue hit. During this past budget season, we could not meet the needs of the school system or county government after the significant APFO changes that should have been phased in. Again, using lessons of the past to do things better.

In addition to the above two amendments, I support the amendment to apply an alternative fee to residential units built in Downtown Columbia. The DTC master development plan is based on a 30-year financial model on which numerous agreements between the developer and the county are based. Student yield is one tenth of the county average, the developer is funding over 130 community enhancements (CEPPAs), development fees on DTC construction are already 3-4 times what other pay and the non-student producing residential and commercial development in DTC is critical to the economic health of our county. I appreciate the work of Councilman Jones on this amendment.

We will be voting on this bill and the rest of our monthly agenda Monday evening at 7:00.

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Those are the posts that caught my attention on this subject.

I have to say I am a bit surprised at what appears to be a significant walk back that may happen with this legislation and the significant projected revenue reductions that may happen if all of these amendments are passed on Monday.

To be honest I am still reviewing the amendments at this point so I can not say good or bad…but there are some strong feelings on this one by some in our community (don’t just look at what was posted…be sure to check out the comments on those social media posts).

Have thoughts on this topic? Do you think these amendments are the right thing to do or is the County Council giving in to developers in this county with these amendments to a bill that is supposed to raise revenue for our schools? Let me know in the comments.

The upcoming vote(s) should be interesting.

Scott E

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