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Prospects Bleak for More Pri. Geo.'s Funding Authority

Anne Bartlett

Top Prince George's officials may be running out of options to expand the county's taxing authority before the completion of the General Assembly's legislative session Monday.

Montgomery County delegates this morning rejected a bill proposed weeks ago by Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson that would have allowed the Washington Suburban Transit Commission, a bi-county mass transit group, to fund county school buses.

The goal would have been to relieve pressure on the Prince George's County budget, by pushing the multimillion line item off county books.

Plus, because the group is regional, the Prince George's County Council could have voted to raise the property taxes that fund the WSTC without running afoul of the county's stringent tax cap. The tax is now set at 2.6 cents per $100 of property value, but the council could vote to change it.

Johnson has been making a push to get the bill passed in the waning days of this session. The Prince George's House delegation voted 13 to 7 to recommend passage of the bill.

But because the WSTC also represents Montgomery, that county's delegation approval is also needed. The measure got 11 votes, and it needed 13 to pass muster. Word is that the delegation might reconsider, but if it does not, the effort will be over. Even if Montgomery signs off, the bill must also be passed by a House standing committee, the full House and then follow a similar process in the Senate.

"It has a ways to go and not a lot of time to get there," said Prince George's delegation chair Del. Melony Griffith, who voted against the bill.

Still, Johnson chief of staff Michael D. Herman has been lobbying hard for the provision and several county senators have told house members they are on board. The county council is also backing the idea.

Several readers have already asked for the vote count in the Prince George's delegation. Here it is:

In favor: Barnes, Benson, Braveboy, Davis, Frush, Holmes, Hubbard, Ivey, Levi, Pena-Melnyk, Ramirez, Turner, Vaughn

Opposed: Healey, Howard, Niemann, Ross, Valderrama, Walker, Griffith
Absent: Gaines, Proctor, Vallerio


By Anne Bartlett  |  April 10, 2009; 11:53 AM ET
Categories:  Prince George's County , Rosalind Helderman  
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