County’s Proposed Rental License Charges Questioned; $400 Annual Fee Under Consideration

County’s Proposed Rental License Charges Questioned; $400 Annual Fee Under Consideration

SNOW HILL – County officials delayed a discussion of new rental licensing fees this week.

The Worcester County Commissioners on Tuesday asked staff to postpone a presentation regarding proposed rental licensing regulations until Commissioner Bud Church, who was absent, could be in attendance.

“His district will be impacted by this heavily,” Commissioner Joe Mitrecic said. “I think he should be part of this conversation.”

Earlier this year, the commissioners passed a variety of bills designed to enable the county to enact a rental license program. The commissioners were expected to discuss implementation of the rental regulations Tuesday with Ed Tudor, the county’s director of development review and permitting, and Phil Thompson, the county’s finance officer. In a report to the commissioners in advance of the meeting, Tudor outlined the process, including the intake of license applications, issuing licenses and monitoring the properties being used as rentals in Worcester County.

“As I have stated on numerous occasions, I believe that I need two additional staff persons to manage all of these tasks,” Tudor wrote. “While both would be cross trained in all aspects, we would like one individual to focus on processing license applications and renewals and the other to focus on education, enforcement and complaint reconciliation.”

The draft resolution establishing rental license fees that accompanied the report sets the annual license fee for short-term rentals at $400 per unit. Bed and breakfast operations would also be charged $400 a year for a license while year-round rental properties would require a $100 license. The fees would apply only to rental properties in unincorporated Worcester County, such as Ocean Pines and West Ocean City.

Tudor’s report and the proposed fees were not discussed Tuesday, however, based on the commissioners’ agreement to wait until Church was present. Mitrecic said the delay would also give the public more time to peruse the draft resolution and contact their commissioners if they had concerns. He indicated the commissioners had received emails from constituents who felt they were “slipping something in” at the last minute.

“So it will give those people that had those concerns a little bit more time to contact their commissioners as there will be no public hearing about this,” he said.

Sarah Rayne, government and public affairs director for the Coastal Association of REALTORS, said that her organization hadn’t sent out the email Mitrecic referenced but said the association had sent members an email advising them that the fees were being discussed.

“We did want to make sure we brought this to the attention of our members,” she said. “Four hundred dollars is incredibly high for a rental license.”

According to Rayne, the residential rental licensing fee in Ocean City is $191, while the fee in Salisbury is $120. She said that in Montgomery County the fee was $114 and in Prince George’s County the fee was $150.

“It’s hard to justify a $400 license fee but we are happy they chose to table it to allow a couple of weeks for people to provide input,” Rayne said.

She added that property owners who rented would be passing the added cost on to customers.

“It’s something that’ll impact a lot of people,” she said.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.