Three bills moved a step closer to Mayor Catherine Pugh’s desk tonight, including a measure that would establish a tax surcharge on the sale of luxury properties to generate money for affordable housing.
The Council unanimously approved an Affordable Housing Trust Fund (bill 18-0221), including an amendment that would exclude high-end property sales from the tax surcharge for six months after the effective date of the law on January 1, 2019.
This was a concession from an original amendment, proposed by Councilman Eric Costello, to exempt the surcharge for a two-year period.
The surcharge will increase the transfer and recordation taxes on the sale of a $1 million property by $7,500, according to the city finance department.
‘The Brew wrote about the questionable assumptions about future revenues generated by the surcharge based on the city’s prior experience with real estate taxes that, during times of economic or housing market downturns, produce fewer revenues than anticipated.
Tighter Rules for Lobbyists
The Transparency in Lobbying Act (18-0230) was ratified on third and final reader tonight.
The bill aims to make it easier to identify what parties are lobbying City Hall officials. It also requires lobbyists to file reports of their activities twice a year rather than annually.
The Baltimore Ethics Board is required to post those reports online within 30 days, with the first reports due on or before June 1, 2019, and to potentially ban violators from lobbying in the city for three years.
At an earlier work session, bill sponsor Zeke Cohen fended off an amendment that would have expanded the definition of a lobbyist to include community activists.
The Council passed 17-0102, sponsored by Ryan Dorsey, requiring the city Department of Transportation to develop a “Complete Streets Transportation System” that considers the needs of all users rather than prioritizing cars.
The bill would establish an Advisory Committee to work with the director of DOT to design streets with more bike lanes, sidewalks and public transit options and to reduce the number of automotive crashes “that injure people and destroy property.”
The legislative body also approved a bill expanding facilities for diaper changing and a resolution recognizing October as “anti-bullying month.”