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The Prince George’s County Council. (Courtesy Photo)

UPPER MARLBORO – The Prince George’s County Council unanimously enacted multiple bills in a brief yet lively legislative session on Nov. 5, including fund appropriations to specific departments.

One of the first enacted bills was an act that reduces food truck licensing fees. The Fire Department charged $75 per hour for a technical assistance fee, which is now reduced to a $35 flat fee.

The bill also eliminates license application fees for food truck hubs, which are currently “$500 for a food truck hub operating less than 60 days and the fee for $3,500 if the hub is operating more than 60 days a year,” according to county documents.

The county sees the benefit of this as more significant than the short-term loss. In exchange for a reduction in revenue from decreased fees, the county saw a potential increase in license applications as well as food choices around the county.

The Homestead Property Tax Credit was enacted and set at 102% for fiscal year (FY) 2021, a slight decrease from last year’s 103%. That decrease in the tax credit will have an impact on real property tax revenue, as it is estimated that the county will receive $2.7 million less than it did in fiscal year 2020, and will go into effect on July 1, 2020. The estimated revenue loss from the new Homestead Tax Credit is approximately $78.5 million under the 102% rate.

The variability is due to the Consumer Price Index, whose most recent percentage change was factored into the Homestead Property Tax Credit’s rate.

A bond sale not to exceed $455,523,000 to complete previously approved capital projects was approved by the council as well. It also authorizes the county to sell bonds for stormwater projects, which will be supported by revenues from the Stormwater Management Fund and not the General Fund. Per the Office of Audits and Investigations, the “bond issuance and related interest will have a negative impact on the county.”

The Local Impact Grant Funds were approved as well, using money derived from taxes on video lottery terminals to fund multiple projects. As a rule, 50% of the taxes from video lottery terminals must be used on education, thus funding certain projects such as asbestos removal at Crossland High School and a child development playground at Friendly High School. The funds will also go to police, fire, workforce development and training and other areas.

Budget issues were a clear focus on the bills that were enacted, and a revision to the FY2020 expense budget was an example of that. In this case, additional grant funding was received, giving County Executive Angela Alsobrooks the ability to appropriate the funds as necessary. For the Department of Corrections, $258,627 was allocated for Recovery Points Reentry Residential Treatment Program.

The Department of Social Services the bulk of the funds with $4,717,590. The money will be used for emergency food and shelter from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), homelessness solutions, and a Transforming Neighborhood Initiative project.

Finally, the Department of Family Services will divert its funding to multiple projects, such as the ombudsman initiative, a juvenile justice delinquency prevention program,and numerous health initiatives.

Two revitalization tax credits for developments were approved as well. Tax credits for multifamily and commercial development, Studio 3807 and Artisan 4100, by Landex Development LLC in Brentwood were approved, as well as for the Armory Apartments project in Hyattsville.

According to county documents, the Studio 3807 and Artisan 4100 developments “will promote revitalization and redevelopment within the Gateway Arts District and be the central public gathering place for the Gateway Arts District, a place where artists and other community stakeholders can meet and share ideas.”

For the Armory Apartments development, the revitalization tax credit is projected to be $929,163 between FY2022 and FY2024, with the benefit of a projected $7,301,646 in real property taxes between FY2022 and FY2031. As with the Studio 3807 and Artisan 4100 developments, the Armory Apartments development is expected to “provide substantial investment in the Gateway Arts District” per county documents.

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