Dorchester County Council looks to spur property rehab with tax incentive

CAMBRIDGE — On Tuesday, the Dorchester County Council introduced legislation meant to spur redevelopment and rehabilitation, both commercial and residential, by offering tax incentives. The council also approved an adopt-a-boat-ramp program.

Jeremy Goldman, county manager, explained the legislation at the council meeting.

“One of the issues that was identified within the county is a declining housing stock,” Mr. Goldman said. “One of the ways that you can encourage rehabilitation of those stocks is to offer a phase-in process when houses are rehabilitated.”

Mr. Goldman gave an example of how the phasing in of property taxes would work.

“Lets say a family buys a house and they buy it for $60,000, then they do $60,000 worth of renovation,” Mr. Goldman said. “The house then reapraisses at $130,000. This will allow the difference between the original tax and the new appraisal tax to phase in over a five-year period. It would work for both commercial properties and residential properties.”

Mr. Goldman said the phase-in is cash neutral because the county isn’t eliminating any taxes.

“So, the idea of the tax is to spur two things — one, rehabilitation of properties, and two, to stimulate the construction economy through a tax incentive,” he said.

The council voted unanimously to introduce the legislation and hold a public hearing. If passed, the legislation would enact a new Article XIX of Chapter 144 of the Dorchester County Code.

The council also voted unanimously to approve an adopt-a-boat-ramp program. At an earlier council meeting, well known county resident Buddy Foxwell asked to adopt the New Bridge boat ramp. In response, county staff took a look at Maryland’s Adopt-a-Highway program and modified it for boat ramps. The programs allow community groups to keep roads, and now county boat ramps, clean and free of litter.

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