Council Passes Bill Providing Tax Incentive for Projects on WMATA Property

The County Council yesterday approved a bill that would exempt 100% of the property tax for a project built on property leased from WMATA at a Metro station in the county.

Bill 29-20, the “More Housing at Metrorail Stations Act,” would apply to construction of new high-rise development that includes at least 50% rental housing and be in effect for 15 years.

Currently, WMATA does not pay property taxes on that land, though a property tax can be levied against a lessee using it for a private purpose. According to Metro, station properties in the county have the capacity to deliver at least 8,600 units of housing.

Developers would continue to pay impact taxes, and residents living in the housing would pay personal income taxes.

“If we assume 8,600 potential units will have the characteristics of a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment, the forgone taxes after 15 years could be between approximately $342.2 million and $414.1 million,” according to the council staff’s report.

“Montgomery County has a lot riding on getting high-rise development going at our Metro stations,” Councilmember Hans Riemer (D-At Large), one of the two lead sponsors of the bill, said in a press release. “To fight climate change, this is exactly the kind of location where we should have as much housing as possible. To promote economic development, we need new housing and jobs around the station areas, and these high-rise buildings should help catalyze the market. Our housing market is not producing enough new housing and that is creating affordability problems for young and working families and putting rent pressure on market affordable housing.”

The bill was passed with three amendments:

  • Requires that 25% of the moderately priced dwelling units be reserved for individuals with incomes at 50% or less of the area median income
  • Mandates that 25% of the workers on each project be county residents, and
  • Creates a Dec. 31, 2032 sunset date for the legislation.

Bill 29-20 was passed by a 7–2 vote with Councilmember Will Jawando (D-At Large) and Council Vice President Tom Hucker (D-District 5) voting no.

In other action yesterday, the council passed:

  • Bill 28-20, Human Rights and Civil Liberties – Discrimination in Public Accommodations – LGBTQ Bill of Rights, to explicitly ban LGBTQ+ discrimination in healthcare facilities, nursing homes and personal care facilities
  • Bill 14-20, Human Rights and Civil Liberties – Discriminatory Employment Practices – Workplace Harassment, to define and prohibit certain discriminatory harassment in the workplace; and define and prohibit certain sexual harassment in the workplace, and
  • Bill 31-20, Public Campaign Financing – Amendment, which alters the maximum contribution limits; allows participating candidates to carryover certain funds under certain circumstances; requires an audit of the public campaign financing system after the general election in an election cycle; and alters the penalties for willful violations of the public campaign financing system.

Screenshot of Councilmember Riemer from County Council YouTube recording of a July press conference introducing Bill 19-20

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