Baltimore City Council Chair Threatens Subpoena on Tax Break Deal
Updated: Friday, August 2 2013, 10:22 PM EDT
On the eve of a public hearing on a tax break for Baltimore City developers, the chair of a city council committee is threatening to use subpoena power to find out more about the deal.
The controversial tax break pits one of the city’s wealthiest developers against City Councilman Carl Stokes – who has been fighting for details about the $1.8 billion development project.
"We will continue to demand it and at some point - and that point is very near - we're going to go to subpoena power,” Stokes said.
The builder is planning to turn Baltimore’s Harbor Point into a corporate headquarters for energy giant Exelon as well as put up stores, homes and a hotel. However, the developer is threatening to pull the plug on the project unless he gets a $107 million tax break from the city.
Stokes is arguing the developers should spread the wealth. One of the tax breaks, known as an enterprise zone credit, is supposed to be used to stimulate development for low income neighborhoods. Stokes wants the developer to share $30 million of the tax break with residents of Perkins Homes; a city housing project the councilman said was used to help Harbor Point qualify for the tax bonus.
But Stokes says he still doesn’t know how much private money – if any – would be spent. The developer, city and mayor won’t share the details. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake accuses Stokes of spreading misinformation about the deal.
"I think it's an effort to turn residents who will benefit from the project against it,” Rawlings-Blake said.
Stokes stands by his facts and insists his concerns are valid. Stokes said he hopes some of his questions will be answered at a public hearing at City Hall on Wednesday.