The Spy met recently with Chestertown Mayor David Foster for an update on two ongoing issues: the Armory, and the Mayor’s continued quest for a more equitable tax relationship between the Town and Kent County.
Foster says the process for determining the future of the National Guard Armory is being rebooted by Washington College after an error in procedure stalled it out last winter. At that time, appropriate notice was not given to the public to respond to plans for the structure’s demolition.
“Regardless of what happens there, they (WC) will continue to own the land, and the hope, as most people know, is to one day get a hotel there that will serve the interests of the College and the entire community.”
He adds that the College will also be starting a hospitality curriculum.
Regarding the glitch in the first attempt to determine whether the Armory should be demolished, Foster says that the Historic District Commission determined that the Armory had historical value but that the second meeting regarding whether or not the building was salvageable failed to recognize the bylaws stating 25 days were required to allow for public input. At this point, the Town called for a “do-over.”
In the interview, Foster also discusses the role of the HDC and feels that the second review of the College’s application will address all issues, including covenants and salvageability.
The Mayor also addressed his intent to push forward the tax differential issue in light of the change in recent elections that seated two new county commissioners.
This Spring marks the 4th year since the State of Maryland addressed the inequity between counties and municipalities in the State and how their tax revenue is allotted. Each county decided how to approach the differential with all except for Kent, Wicomico, and Worcester counties amending their town/county tax relationship.
Sometimes called “double taxation,” referring to the duplication of services taxed by the county for police, street maintenance, planning, and zoning, the Town seeks a tax break from the county. The county had held that they have lost revenue over the years when the State stopped providing highway user funds.
A resolution for a municipality tax break has been sought by two Chestertown Mayors in the past: Margo Bailey and Chris Cerino. Cerino appealed to the County Commissioners six times.
Mayor Foster will be meeting with Kent County Commissioners this week.
The chart below helps explain the differential.
The video is approximately 12 minutes in length.