Anne Arundel County Council approved legislation Monday night that will grant public safety officers living in the county a $2,500 property tax credit.

The bill, introduced by Councilman Jerry Walker, R-Crofton, passed 5-2 with County Council chair John Grasso, R-Glen Burnie, and Councilman Michael Peroutka, R-Millersville, both voting against the bill.

Public safety officers will now qualify for a $2,500 optional property tax credit as long as they have worked for the county for a year and live within the county. Public safety officers include police, volunteer firefighters, correctional officers and others. The bill was made possible by state enacting legislation. Baltimore City recently voted for a similar bill.

In his vote against the bill, Peroutka said he believed it created different classes of people receiving varying tax benefits and violated the Maryland Constitution.

“As much as I respect the work of public safety officers, I don’t think this is a good idea,” Peroutka said.

County Executive Steve Schuh’s administration has resisted the bill but said Monday they supported the legislation with hesitation. Their major concern lay with the tax credit leading to a tax increase for non public safety officer residents. Anne Arundel County has a tax cap and that means gaps in revenue would need to be made up elsewhere.

In other business, the council made last minute changes to the draft of the master water and sewer plan after resident feedback.

After several amendments and multiple public hearings, the council made a last-minute change to the draft of the 2017 Master Plan for Water Supply and Sewerage Systems. This plan sets the services status of land in the county which can be a precursor to future development plans.

The bill was the first public hearing of the evening but the council decided to hold its vote until later in the evening after Annapolis residents raised concerns about planned service for property near the Amberley community in Annapolis. An amendment was drafted and passed to revert that area back to future service for sewer and no public service for water.

Residents worried development of the area would have a negative impact to the environment in the area.

“The property should not be developed beyond septic and well,” said Rachel Eisenhauer, an Annapolis resident. “It is in the critical area.”Other notable service status: The county has planned additional service east of the Broadneck Peninsula, in eastern Glen Burnie and southern Jessup along with pockets of additional service planned throughout the county.

The Broad Creek area is targeted for future service, meaning the county would need water and/or sewer investment into the area before approving it for development.

While Mayo is listed as existing service in the 2017 plan, the area has been targeted for development after the moratorium, in place since 2008, was lifted starting Nov 1. The county estimates about 630 building units will be built on the land over several decades.

During public comments, several Mayo residents requested the county be more transparent about the potential location of the units and to scale back the development.

They argued there is already enough development in the area.

“We have had too much development drift,” said Anthony Brent, Mayo resident. “…Our public safety professionals are overburdened and underpaid.”

The council also passed a resolution supporting of a $.005 percent property tax reduction. This resolution, sponsored by Councilman Derek Fink, R-Pasadena, was put forth to offset the potential property tax increases residents would receive due to the $2,500 property tax credit for public safety officers. The county has estimated everyone’s taxes would go up $20 due to maximizing revenues under the tax cap.

The resolution doesn’t mandate the property tax cut.

Bills introduced Monday:

  • Schuh’s administration is looking to create an optional retirement plan called the Anne Arundel County Employee Retirement Savings Plan as an optional choice for employees who qualify for the Employee Retirement Plan. This plan would lower the county’s contributions from 8.7 percent to 8 percent but would vest five years earlier than the traditional plan.
  • Grasso introduced legislation that aims to reduce the number of “community cats” that are euthanized. The bill would create a provision in county law allowing groups to trap, neuter and return community cats to the wild. Community cats would be considered as cats, feral and not, who are being cared for in the wild but don’t have a designated owner.
  • Schuh’s administration put forth a bill creating a process to transfer real property to federal and state governments as well as a quasi-governmental entity or a political subdivision.

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