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Annapolis: Maryland Annual Corporate Filing Fee would be Raised Based on Company Assets

Maryland businesses have come out strongly against a proposed change in the annual corporate filing fee that would go from a flat fee structure to a progressive tax based on a company’s assets.

The annual corporate filing fee is currently a flat fee of $300 in order to maintain the legal entity’s existence in the state; the progressive tax could climb as high as $4,000 based on a company’s fixed assets.

Sponsors of the bill say they’ve received massive support from constituents with small businesses.

“This bill is about fairness,” said the bill’s sponsor, Del. Vanessa Atterbeary, D-Howard County. “And it attempts to put businesses on a graduated scale based on their taxable assets.”

Fees would drop for 250,000 firms

Under the measure, HB691, 233,000 entities in Maryland would see the annual fee drop to $150 and another 19,000 would see a decrease to $200.  Around 11,000 businesses would continue to pay $300, according to the fiscal note.

In 2003, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich raised the fee from $100 to $300.

“Essentially what we would like to do is not make Ben Kramer Save the Puppies LLC to have to pay the same amount as Under Armour,” Atterbeary said, using the name of a committee member.

But once fixed assets pass $50,000, the fee more than doubles to $750 and climbs north to $4,000 for companies with fixed assets above $200,000.

“Why should any small business pay the same exact $300 fee…as a Northrop Grumman,” said one of the bill’s cosponsors, Del. Dan Morhaim, D-Baltimore County, in testimony before the House Economic Matters Committee on Wednesday. He said he had received many complaints in recent years about the regressive nature of the tax.

“This does represent a tax break for entities we often say we want to support,” he said.

Del. Chris Adams, R-Dorchester, said the fee under the bill appears to be more of a tax increase than a fee increase.

“We’re getting away from the idea that there’s a fee that we pay for the privilege of doing business in the state of Maryland and moving [it towards a tax], Adams said. He challenged Morhaim’s testimony referring to the fee as a “tax.” Morhaim quickly apologized for the characterization.

Adams said many CPAs in his district complained more about the proposal than the current sick leave bill moving through legislature.

“I got more phone calls on this bill than I did the sick pay bill,” he said. “I got a lot of opposition from the business community on this one.”

Champe McCulloch of Maryland Associated General Contractors said the progressive tax would punish businesses that investment in Maryland.

“Do you as the General Assembly want to hold business that make substantial capital investments in Maryland in disdain and [assess] a higher fee because they are committed to Maryland and committed to investing in Maryland,” McCulloch asked the committee.

Assets don’t correlate with income

Many who testified against the bill said using fixed assets could raise the fee for companies with higher fixed assets, like trucks and tools, than a small firm with very little fixed assets that makes considerably more from services, like a law firm.

Mike O’Halloran, Maryland director of the National Federation of Independent Business, told the committee that the small businesses the bill aims to help can easily have more than $50,000 in fixed assets.

“You can get up to $50,000 in taxable assets fairly quickly,” O’Halloran said. He said a caterer he knew would see an increase simply because the kitchen equipment easily exceeds $50,000 in value.

Atterbeary said the proposal was revenue neutral.

The initial expenditures to administer the new fee structure comes to $500,000 in fiscal 2018 and $66,000 annually. Revenues are expected to increase by $435,000 annually.

But Maryland Chamber of Commerce in written testimony said the bill was an attempt at a revenue increase.

“The State’s Department of Assessments and Taxation has imposed filing fees to offset the administrative cost to the State of updating corporate documents each year,” the Chamber said.  “To replace the traditional fee with a scaled fee is a veiled attempt to increase State revenue at the expense of small businesses.”

By Dan Menefee

Dutch Masters: From Botanical to Bouquet

GCESF;owersLearn from a master what inspired the Dutch Masters to paint and continues to inspire today.

Presented by the Garden Club of the Eastern Shore, Anke Van Wagenberg will share the captivating story of the painters’ passion to capture the natural beauty of floral design on Wed. March 8 at 11:15 at the Academy Art Museum.

Van Wagenberg holds a Ph.D. in Art History from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and an M.A. in Art History and Archaeology, also from Amsterdam. She has been an Exhibition Assistant at the National Gallery of Art, followed by a year as Associate Researcher at The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.

She serves as Senior Curator at the Academy Art Museum, where she is responsible for all exhibitions and the Permanent Collection. She recently curated the exhibitions including: From Rubens to the Grand Tour and  James Turrell Perspectives; Pat Steir: A View; Mark Rothko and Robert Rauschenberg: ROCI Works from the National Gallery of Art.

Founded in 1963, the Garden Club of the Eastern Shore is dedicated to stimulating knowledge of horticulture, aiding in the protections of trees, shrubs, wildflowers and birds, and encouraging all conservation practices.

Throughout the year, the club provides ongoing support and maintenance for the Academy Art Museum and Thompson Park. The club also awards an annual college scholarship to an aspiring high school student in Talbot County whose field of study is consistent with the club’s mission.

The lecture on March 8 is free and open to the public. Seating is limited.

Avon-Dixon Supports Hometown Heroes Event

ADA_ColorsOfCancer_Donation_2017The Avon-Dixon Agency, a member of the Shore Bancshares community of companies, recently donated funds to support the American Cancer Society’s Colors of Cancer event.  The annual event to honor hometown heroes in the community has been scheduled for April 1, 2017 at the Tred Avon Yacht Club in Oxford, Md. “We are honored to support the Colors of Cancer event as part of our commitment to make a difference in the lives of those in our community,” says Rich Trippe, President and CEO of the Avon-Dixon Insurance Agency. Pictured left to right are Michelle Williams, Colors of Cancer Event Chair; Julie Libby, Sponsor Chair; and Rich Trippe.

Free Consumer Debt Clinic Dates for February

Do you need legal advice about Bankruptcy or Consumer Debt? If so, contact Mid-Shore Pro Bono’s Debtor Assistance Project.

The Debtor Assistance Project (“DAP”) is a clinic, originally located at the U.S. Courthouses in Maryland, which provides debtors with an opportunity to meet with a bankruptcy attorney for a free half-hour consultation. The DAP is designed to help individuals without an attorney to answer legal questions about bankruptcy and general consumer debt issues. The DAP cannot provide an attorney to complete your paperwork for you or represent you.

Call 410-690-8128 to schedule your appointment.

Locations:
Queen Anne’s County District Courthouse, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2017
Mid-Shore Pro Bono Office, 8 S. West Street, Easton, WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2017

How to Schedule an Appointment?
Contact the Mid-Shore Pro Bono at info@midshoreprobono.org, or 410-690-8128 to pre-schedule your DAP appointment.

Do I Need to Arrive Early? Yes, please arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your appointment time to complete the DAP’s intake form.

What do I need to Prepare/Bring with Me? If you have already filed for bankruptcy, please bring your case number and copies of any documents you wish to ask questions about.

The DAP can only provide you with a brief half-hour consultation with a bankruptcy attorney. If you need assistance beyond that period, you should contact an attorney.

The DAP is the result of collaboration between the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the Maryland State Bar Association Consumer Bankruptcy Section, the Bankruptcy Bar Association of Maryland, the Standing Chapter 13 Trustees, Civil Justice, Inc., Community Legal Services of Prince George’s County, the Montgomery County Pro Bono Program, the Maryland Volunteer Lawyer Service, Mid-Shore Pro Bono, and the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland. For more information, visit www.midshoreprobono.org.

Adkins Arboretum Names New Trustees

Adkins Arboretum announces the appointment of four members to its Board of Trustees. Joyce Anderson, Mikaela Boley, Margot McConnel and Kate Rattie joined the Arboretum Board for its January meeting.

Anderson, of Centreville, is a retired therapist. She has served as a volunteer with the Arboretum’s youth programs and is an enthusiastic ambassador for its conservation mission. She also trained as a Maryland Master Naturalist through the Arboretum’s partnership with Pickering Creek Audubon Center and Phillips Wharf Environmental Center.

Adkins board

Adkins Arboretum recently added four new members to its Board of Trustees. Margot McConnel, Joyce Anderson, Kate Rattie and Mikayla Boley (L-R) joined the Board for its January meeting.

Boley works as a senior agent associate and urban horticulture/Master Gardener coordinator for the University of Maryland Extension Service in Talbot County. She holds a degree in environmental horticulture from the University of Minnesota and interned at the Arboretum before moving to Easton from her home state of Wisconsin.

McConnel, of Easton, earned a degree in landscape design from Temple University and is a longtime volunteer for the Arboretum and numerous organizations on the Mid-Shore. She has served as president of the Garden Club of the Eastern Shore.

Rattie, of Ridgely, has held fundraising, marketing and communications management positions with Chester River Health System, Shore Health System, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and Adkins Arboretum. She currently serves as associate director of the Benedictine Foundation. Rattie is a 2014 graduate of Shore Leadership and currently serves as president of the board of directors of the Caroline County Humane Society.

Located adjacent to Tuckahoe State Park in Caroline County, Adkins Arboretum is a private partnership between the nonprofit Adkins Arboretum and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The facilities are owned by the state but are operated and financed by the Arboretum under a 50-year lease. The Arboretum serves residents and travelers in the region with leadership provided by a 13-member Board of Trustees representing Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot and Queen Anne’s counties.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

CBMM Earns Coveted 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency have earned the non-profit museum a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator. This is the second time CBMM has earned this top distinction in the last eighteen months.

CBMM_CharityNavigatorSince 2002, using objective analysis, Charity Navigator has awarded only the most fiscally responsible organizations a 4-star rating. In 2011, Charity Navigator added 17 metrics, focused on governance and ethical practices as well as measures of openness, to its ratings methodology. These Accountability & Transparency metrics, which account for 50 percent of a charity’s overall rating, reveal which charities operate in accordance with industry best practices and whether they are open with their donors and stakeholders. On June 1, 2016, Charity Navigator upgraded its methodology for rating each charity’s financial health with CN 2.1, further substantiating the financial health of the evaluator’s four star charities.

“The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s exceptional 4-star rating sets it apart from its peers and demonstrates its trustworthiness to the public,” according to Michael Thatcher, President & CEO of Charity Navigator. “Only a quarter of charities rated by Charity Navigator receive the distinction of our 4-star rating. This adds CBMM to a preeminent group of charities working to overcome our world’s most pressing challenges. Based on its 4-star rating, people can trust that their donations are going to a financially responsible and ethical charity when they decide to support CBMM.”

“It’s important our donors trust that we’re using their donations wisely to inspire and educate future stewards of the Chesapeake Bay,” said CBMM President Kristen Greenaway. “Our 4-star Charity Navigator rating demonstrates to our supporters our good governance and financial accountability.”

CBMM’s rating and other information about charitable giving are available free of charge on charitynavigator.org. More-detailed information about CBMM’s rating is available at no charge to Charity Navigator site visitors who become registered users at bit.ly/CBMMcharitynavigator.

Charity Navigator is the largest charity evaluator in America and its website attracts more visitors than all other charity rating groups combined. The organization helps guide intelligent giving by evaluating the Financial Health and Accountability & Transparency of more than 8,000 charities. Charity Navigator accepts no advertising or donations from the organizations it evaluates, ensuring unbiased evaluations, nor does it charge the public for this trusted data.

Established in 1965, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is a world-class maritime museum dedicated to preserving and exploring the history, environment, and people of the entire Chesapeake Bay, with the values of relevancy, authenticity, and stewardship guiding its mission. Serving more than 75,000 guests each year, CBMM’s campus includes a floating fleet of historic boats and 12 exhibition buildings, situated in a park-like, waterfront setting along the Miles River and St. Michaels harbor. Charitable gifts to CBMM’s annual fund enable CBMM to educate and inspire the next generation of Chesapeake Bay stewards, and can be made online at cbmm.org/donate.

Denny Clough Retires from Easton Utilities

Just one month shy of completing 44 years of service, Dennis George Clough is retiring as the Superintendent of Electrical Maintenance for Easton Utilities. Mr. Clough began his career in the Electric Department as part of the underground line crew in March 1973. Shortly thereafter, he transferred to the utility pole truck team followed by the overhead line crew. In 1976, Mr. Clough joined the electrical maintenance division as an electrician in the power plant. He was promoted to Assistant Superintendent of Electrical Maintenance in 1985, and upon Jack Lane’s retirement in 1999, Mr. Clough was promoted again to Superintendent of Electrical Maintenance.

IMG_0575Mr. Clough has tremendous institutional knowledge of the generation and transmission systems in Easton. He was instrumental in the construction of Substation No. 3 on Goldsborough Neck Road and Substation No. 4 on Glenwood Avenue. He also managed the upgrade of Substation No. 2 on Glebe Park Drive and, most recently, the upgrade of Substation No. 1. This project included the installation of a new power transformer located on the campus of Easton Utilities. All of these projects and improvements were critical to the safety and reliability of the electrical system. Mr. Clough was responsible for installation and maintenance of the traffic signals for the Town of Easton. In addition to serving on the Safety Committee for Easton Utilities, he was an active volunteer with Waterfowl Festival for 15 years and was instrumental in bringing Rudolph back to Easton.

“Through his unwavering commitment and professionalism, Denny leaves a rich legacy at Easton Utilities and our community is far better for his service,” said Hugh E. Grunden, President & CEO of Easton Utilities.

CBHS to Learn About Mead

Andrew Geffken, a co-owner of Charm City Meadworks, will discuss “the nectar of the gods” at the Feb. 9 meeting of the Chesapeake Bay Herb Society.

Charm City Meadworks was born out of a love of adventure and learning. Co-owner James Boicourt began keeping bees in college, after taking graduate-level entomology classes. Through the excess of honey, he started to translate his home-brewing hobby into the amateur crafting of honey-based spirits and beverages.

After college, his love for the water led him to a job at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, where he met fellow brew enthusiast and future co-owner Andrew Geffken. As they dreamed and schemed of investing in a new business, mead grew from an annual Viking party to a full-fledged business, seeking to show the world that the oldest alcoholic beverage in history is still relevant, and more importantly, still just as delicious.

Abandoning engineering and sustainability jobs to work a lot more for a lot less but having a great time doing it, James and Andrew launched Baltimore City’s only meadery in early 2014 and recently expanded into a new facility. Charm City and the nectar of the gods are a match made in heaven. Local retailers carrying Charm City include Wishing Well Liquors, Town & Country, Hair O’ The Dog, and Best Wine and Spirits.

The society usually meets the second Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 7215 Ocean Gateway, Easton.  Meetings include an herbal potluck dinner, a short business meeting and a presentation on an herb-related topic.  The theme for the February dinner is herbs and spice blends of the Portuguese Empire.

CBHS was formed in 2002 to share knowledge of herbs with the local community.  The group maintains the herb garden at Pickering Creek Audubon Center.

For more information, call (410) 827-5434 or visit www.ChesapeakeBayHerbSociety.org.

Easton’s Terri Charest Promoted at Avery Hall

Terri Charest

Terri Charest

Avery Hall Benefit Solutions announces that Terri Charest has been promoted to Account Executive in the Easton office. Terri has been an Account Manager since 2014 and an Easton resident since 1995. As a National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) Certified Account Manager her focus has been on staying up-to-date with the ever changing health insurance market and giving quality customer service to all of her clients.

As an Account Executive, Terri will work with Delmarva businesses of all sizes helping them find benefit solutions, and improving employee retention by creating or enhancing their employee benefit packages. She can be reached a410.822.7300 or tcharest@averyhall.com.

Avery Hall Insurance Group serves individuals, families, and businesses of all sizes throughout Delmarva and the Mid- Atlantic. Avery Hall is headquartered in Salisbury, with offices in Easton, Seaford, Bridgeville, and Milton.

Wye Financial & Trust Welcomes Colin Pryor, Client Relationship Manager

ColinPryor_2016_cropWye Financial & Trust, a division of Shore United Bank and a member of Shore Bancshares community of companies, is pleased to announce that Colin Pryor has joined the company as their Client Relationship Manager.

Colin will be responsible for working with clients to strategize toward the preservation and continued growth of assets and introducing clients to a broad range of investment management opportunities.

Mr. Pryor is a graduate of the University of Delaware and holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance.

Prior to joining Wye Financial & Trust, Mr. Pryor worked with Wilmington Trust, in the advisory services industry focusing on personal trusts; and four years with Bank of Oklahoma Financial managing retirement and investment accounts for local businesses.

“Colin is a welcome addition to our Wealth Management team.  He brings personal trust and corporate asset management experience that will benefit our clients,” said Wye Financial & Trust Manager, Talli Oxnam.

“I enjoy helping clients work towards their financial goals and to be working with a company that cares about its clients and communities,” said Mr. Pryor.

Mr. Pryor resides in Eden, Maryland with his wife Meghan. He actively volunteers with Junior Achievement in Salisbury.