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Welcome to my blog, which features frequent updates on local Takoma Park issues, including City Council meeting agendas, plus occasional commentary on national news and politics.

September 19, 2018 City Council Meeting Agenda

Dear Neighbors:

The following is a link to the September 19, 2018 City Council meeting agenda:  https://takomaparkmd.gov/meeting_agendas/city-council-meeting-agenda-wednesday-september-19-2018/. We have two votes: the first on changes to the City’s ethics law to bring it into conformity with recent State ethics changes, and the second a reappointment to the Tree Commission. I’ll be voting yes on both. Then we’ll have an important discussion about potential changes to our commercial property tax system.

Pepco Project Community Meeting Reminder:  As announced previously, there will be a community meeting tomorrow night (Tuesday, September 18) regarding Pepco’s North Takoma project. The meeting will take place at 7:30 PM in Room 116 of Montgomery College’s Scott Commons building. Representatives from Pepco and their contractor will provide updates on the project and take questions.

Ethics Amendments:  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2018/council-20180919-1.pdf

Tree Commission Appointment:  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2018/council-20180919-2.pdf

Commercial Property Tax:  https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/agendas/2018/council-20180919-3.pdf

The Council previously voted to repeal the inventory portion of the business personal property tax, based in large part on the sense that it wasn’t a fair way of taxing businesses. That change won’t be effective until our next Fiscal Year, which begins on July 1, 2019, and we’ll now be looking at alternatives to the inventory tax that may offer a more fair approach to taxation with respect to the business community.

When I first ran for City Council in 2015 I heard from a number of Takoma Park business owners about the unfair and inconsistent impact of the inventory tax, and I’ve pushed for changes to it since I first began serving on the Council. My earlier preference had been to exempt a percentage of businesses’ inventory from the tax, a change which would have meant that most smaller businesses here in the City would have paid no inventory tax. That approach didn’t have sufficient support on the Council, and we’ll now be looking more closely at the idea of raising the existing commercial property tax to more or less offset the reduction in revenue (approximately $320,000) that will result from repealing the inventory tax.

I’m not sure at this point what the best approach would be, but it’s essential that before we take any action we have a better understanding of the potential impact of changes along these lines on the business community, and on the overall balance in our tax structure in the City (taking into account our residential real estate tax rates). This week’s discussion will be an important part of beginning that process, and I look forward to a robust engagement with business owners before we reach any decisions.

As always, please feel free to be in touch with comments or questions about these matters.

Peter Kovar, Takoma Park City Council, Ward One

240-319-6281; www.councilmemberkovar.co

City Council Agendas for September 24 & 26, 2018

September 12, 2018 City Council Meeting Agenda