Morning Brief: Two Washington Banks Merge

Two Washington area banks controlled by the same local businessman have decided to merge forces.

Independence Federal Savings Bank yesterday said on Wednesday that it plans to merge with ColomboBank of Rockville. The deal would create a $300 million thrift controlled by Washington businessman Morton A. Bender.

Reports staff writer Anita Huslin:

"The merger will blur the historic origins of both banks. The 95-year-old Colombo began as a neighborhood lender in the Little Italy section of Baltimore, while the roots of Independence sprang from the ashes of the 1968 riots, when a black businessman started the thrift to serve African American clients who could not get loans from white-owned banks."

Prince George's County could see an increase in property taxes. Faced with an unprecedented budget shortfall, the Prince George's County Council has endorsed County Executive Jack B. Johnson's plan to increase property taxes. The 5 to 3 vote, with one abstention on Wednesday, backed Johnson's request that state lawmakers change the formula used to calculate county property tax increases.

And in the District, consumers may soon be paying 5 cents per bag when buying groceries from a supermarket, hitting the drugstore or picking up a snack from a street vendor.

A majority of the D.C. Council supports legislation that could tax not only plastic bags, but paper ones, too, and make the District home to one of the country's toughest such laws.

Under the bill, the 5-cent fee would be split between businesses and the city, which would use its share to help clean the Anacostia River and offer free reusable bags to elderly and low-income residents.

The District's proposal could have some consumers trying to balance their environmental instincts against their pocketbooks.

By Alejandro Lazo  |  February 12, 2009; 9:23 AM ET  | Category:  Economy Watch , Morning Brief
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