ANNAPOLIS – State housing officials have suggested a cheaper and more efficient version of a lead abatement tax credit proposal that died in the 1997 General Assembly.
The bill, which would have allowed property owners to subtract from their income tax bills some costs of removing dangerous lead from homes, rental units and child care centers, was killed by the House Ways and Means Committee in March. Several committee members said Thursday the reason was the legislation’s $5 million price tag.
At the request of the committee, the Department of Housing and Community Development compiled suggestions to improve the credit’s chances of passage.
Patricia J. Payne, the department’s secretary and chairwoman of the state’s Lead Hazard Advisory Committee, told lawmakers this week that the changes would make the credit easier to police and more effective.
* Arranging for certification to be done by the contractors who carry out the work, rather than by state inspectors. Certification involves an expert stating that a) a property had a lead problem and b) the problem was properly solved. The state would still perform “random audits” to check the quality of the contractors’ work.
* Limiting the money available for the credit to no more than $3 million.
* Making the tax credit applicable to residences with fewer than three bedrooms.
* Encouraging more intensive lead abatement, and making the amount credited correspond to the level of abatement.
Lead abatement can be done at Level I, II, III or IV.
According to state regulations, Level I includes capping window wells, removing chipped and peeling paint, and vacuuming and scrubbing the interior with approved detergents.
Levels II and III involve more extensive — and expensive — repairs to the household interior. Level IV includes “new and innovative” techniques.
Del. Samuel “Sandy” Rosenberg, D-Baltimore, had introduced the 1997 bill and said he would probably reintroduce a measure in 1998.