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Kamenetz Asks General Assembly for Power to Increase Business Fees

"Slight adjustments" would increase revenues from businesses from $1.1m to $2.3m. Revenue from liquor licenses fees could double. Executive also asks to move parking ticket appeals out of district court.

UPDATED (4:50 p.m.) — Citing increasing budgetary pressures from the state, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz is asking the General Assembly to give the county power to increase a number of business-related fees and move parking ticket appeals out of the District Court.

"We're not trying to hurt anyone here—we're just trying to establish what we think is a reasonable rate," Kamenetz, a Democrat, said during a meeting with county delegates in Annapolis. (Listen to the full testimony here.)

Some of the fees on the table include those for liquor and chain store licenses, as well as those for laundry services and billiards tables.

"In 1920, it cost five cents for a loaf of bread, 29 cents for a gallon of milk and a traders license was $15," Kamenetz said. "In 2010, it costs $2.50 for a loaf of bread, $3 for a gallon of milk and a traders license costs $15."

Kamenetz said the county faces increased budgetary pressures from the state and called the changes "an opportunity to raise revenues."

"I'm just looking to pick pennies up off the floor," Kamenetz said.

Kamenetz said the goal of fees for liquor licenses is to pay for the expense of the county Liquor Board Commissioners and inspectors. Those costs run about $700,000 annually.

Since being sworn in, Kamenetz combined to top staff positions into one and froze hiring for a vacant liquor inspector position.

"Yet we're still $200,000 in the hole," Kamenetz said.

Overall, county revenues are on pace to be nearly $40 million short compared to expectations when the budget was passed last spring.

Kamenetz said the county has had to make up about $250 million in state highway user funds that were taken from the county to balance the state budget.

Kamenetz said the "slight adjustments" would increase revenues from business license increases from $1.1 million to $2.3 million annually.

Proposed increases to liquor license fees would increase county revenues from $700,000 to nearly $1.6 million annually.

The bills, as written, ask the General Assembly to give the county executive and council the authority to change the fees. Currently, General Assembly approval is needed for such changes.

Members of the county Senate delegation expressed concern Thursday over the bills and expressed an unwillingness to cede that authority to the county, according to Sen. Kathy Klausmeier, who chairs the county delegation.

Kamenetz said Friday if the House and Senate delegations were unwilling to give up the power he would be willing to amend the bill to contain specific fee increases, thereby putting legislators in the position of casting votes for those increases in a year when most have said they are hesitant to raise taxes or fees.

The county executive also asked the delegation to approve a bill creating a pilot program that would move appeals on parking tickets issued in the county from the district court to the county Office of Administrative law.

Kamenetz said when tickets go before district court judges, the fines are typically waived in lieu of court costs that go entirely to the state.

Steven Smith February 28, 2011 at 05:03 PM
Killi (continued) I have to disagree with you about why we elect people. Yes, their job is to vote on issues but, part of their job is to communicate with and understand the opinions of their constituents on all of the issues. It is the responsibility of citizens to monitor and remain involved in the issues that the legislature is discussing. Those who don’t pay attention and remain involved between election days vote based on the propaganda that is fed to them during the campaign season only. Steve Smith – Former Candidate for MD District 11 Delegate
Steven Smith February 28, 2011 at 05:05 PM
Killi, Yes I did say I turned down lucrative offers, these were bribes to get my support for issues that I either agreed or disagreed with. If elected, it is not in the interest of my constituents for me to profit from bribes for decisions that I would make in the legislature. Yes I was passed over for jobs in favor of illegals getting the work. As I stated one of these day labor companies is inside my own district and I have a relative who works in the office there. My information is quite accurate. You are inquiring as to what my qualifications were to run for office, I am happy to answer that. I have spent over 30 years studying politics and the issues. I have attended and participated in thousands of meetings and town hall events to remain current and active on the issues. I actually read the bills that are being voted on. My understanding of budgetary finance comes from working for small businesses where the owners took the time to educate me on the balancing of their budgets. I have done all of this while spending 60-80 hours a week working. Of course with no job, I have spent even more time on the issues while also looking for work. (continued)
Steven Smith February 28, 2011 at 05:06 PM
Killi (continued) Politicians should never fall “out of touch” with the common man, when they do they are not doing their job correctly. When Delegate Jon Cardin stated in public, “I am an attorney as is Dana (Stein), neither of us know anything about physicians or health care issues. That is why when a Bill comes up having to do with these issues we both ask, as do many others in the Assembly, Dr. Morhaim, the only doctor in the house, to tell us how to vote on the legislation.” I was running for one of the seats held by Cardin, Morhaim and Stein. When politicians look to each other, not their constituents, for advice on what to vote ’Yeah’ or ‘Nay’ on, they are way out of touch! Now, why should I or you or any other “common man” (or woman) run for office, because that is what our founding fathers were and because that is the way our system was designed to be and because the government is the people, the common man = the government. You have the freedom to vote for or against whomever you want to. I respect your decision if you choose to support a lawyer, a doctor, a businessperson or a Professor of something, but I would rather support someone whose passion outweighs there need to pad their résumé or get a large paycheck and pension. Steve Smith – Former Candidate for MD District 11 Delegate
Jim O'Toole March 01, 2011 at 01:51 AM
This is really disturbing. We the people elect public officials to protect our economic well being but the only thing I have heard is how much it is going to cost the very people they are elected to serve because of mismanagement and greed. If they really want to be leaders then lead. I agree with William that if their interest is closing the budget gap than they should consider taking a reduction in their salaries and pensions. Then I will be able to consider them leaders...
Buzz Beeler March 01, 2011 at 03:37 AM
If experience is a requirement of elected office, taking a line form one of Dirty Harry's movies, "you gotta ask yourself a question," were are we being lead to? Lets seen now, $15 trillion deficit, persistent unemployment, housing crisis, involvement in two of the longest wars in U.S. history, immigration issues, terrorism ...! If the German people would have been an informed electorate, national socialism may never have gotten a foothold in that country. The guy wrote a best seller for Pete's-sake, and he people still didn't get it.

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