ANNAPOLIS – Montgomery County delegates Friday killed a bill to let Prince George’s County officials sell or lease the naming rights to three sports facilities and use the money for schools.
Montgomery held sway over the Prince George’s bill because the facilities are owned by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, in which both counties participate.
Only five members of the Montgomery delegation supported the bill, which was drafted by Prince George’s County lawmakers to bring money to their struggling school system.
Several Montgomery delegates said they voted against the bill because there were too many unanswered questions.
“I didn’t feel I had enough accurate information,” said Delegate Carol S. Petzold, D-Montgomery.
“There was only hearsay. `I think it’s owned by…, I think the lease is….’ I’m not willing to make a precedent-setting change based on hearsay.”
Prince George’s County delegates were disappointed. They said they’d hoped Montgomery County would approve the bill since it only involved property in Prince George’s: US Airways Arena in Landover, the Prince George’s Stadium in Bowie and the Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro.
“To have this opportunity snatched away from us by them….This is a local bill, it has nothing to do with Montgomery County,” said Prince George’s Delegation Chairman Rushern L. Baker. “It was narrowly drawn so that it just affected Prince George’s County.”
Education is the leading priority for Prince George’s lawmakers this session. They want funding to repair and build schools.
“We’ve got a tax cap, and we are trying to get as much money as we can for our schools,” Baker said. “And we have to be innovative with how we do that.”
Montgomery County delegates remained unconvinced.
“I think it is inappropriate to take funds from the park and planning commission and transfer them to the county government,” said Delegate Leon G. Billings, D-Montgomery. “If Prince George’s needs more money they ought to repeal TRIM,” he said referring to the tax cap. “They ought to stop whining about it.”
The bill was the brainchild of Delegate Dereck Davis, D-Prince George’s, and was quickly approved by Prince George’s delegates last month. Montgomery County’s Bicounty Committee also approved the bill. The Montgomery County Planning Board opposed the legislation saying money from selling stadium names should be used to maintain the facilities and support programs.
“It’s disappointing that I wasn’t able to make the case to them,” Davis said. “It could have been a great benefit to Prince George’s County. I’m hoping I can take the bill make some changes and bring it back next year.”