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Wells Pressing for a Delay in Property Taxes for Businesses on H Street NE and Seventh Street SE

Council member Tommy Wells ( D - Ward 6) is facing a mini-rebellion over his efforts to enact an emergency bill to give some businesses in his district additional time to pay their property taxes.

At today's Council meeting, members will take up a proposal by Wells to grant the temporary property tax reprieve to businesses along H Street NE and 7 th Street SE near Eastern Market. Wells said the extension is needed because those business owners have been losing revenue because of ongoing streetscaping projects.

"Its an emergency for these businesses," Wells said.

But at the Council pre-session breakfast meeting this morning, Council members Harry Thomas (D-Ward 5) and Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) questioned whether it was fair to enact a narrowly drafted bill.

Thomas noted that he has also been pushing to delay tax payments for businesses on 12th Street NE, arguing they will also be impacted by streetscaping.

"At this point, they feel disrespected by the process," Thomas said.

Graham asked that Wells's proposal be put off for a month so it can be broadened to include other areas of the city. Wells noted that a broader bill has been developed, but it must first work through the committee process. He said the businesses on H Street NE and 7 Street SE cannot wait for a broader bill because their tax bills are already due.

"They will face penalties," Wells said.

"We can waive all of that," Graham snapped back.

Wells, who was visibly frustrated, vows he's "going forward" with his proposal today, which will need the support of 9 of 13 council members to be approved.

Wells appears to have the support of Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) and Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), chairman of the Finance and Revenue Committee - but only if they can keep it from being amended to add other sections of the city.

Tim Craig

By Marcia Davis  |  April 7, 2009; 12:55 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council  
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