Councilman Proposes Outdoor Ad Tax
Councilman Bill Henry believes the tax could result in about $1 million in new revenue for the city.
UPDATED (11:33 PM)—A City Council member who represents North Baltimore is proposing an excise tax on outdoor advertisements such as billboards.
The legislation, sponsored by Councilman Bill Henry, would charge $5 per square foot for advertising more than 10 square feet and $15 per square foot for electronic advertising.
"We look high and low for revenue in times like these and when we look high we see billboards," Henry said.
The legislation was introduced during Monday’s City Council meeting.
Henry first introduced similar legislation two years ago. He said the tax would generate about $1 million a year in revenue for the city, based on 2010.
When Henry introduced the bill it received a committee hearing but was never moved to the floor because it did not have the necessary votes to pass.
Henry said at that time his colleagues were swayed by an argument by Clear Channel, who owns 90 percent of city billboards, that a tax would be detrimental to their business. He said in the previous two years that Clear Channel has continued to experience growth, and has a larger operating budget than the city.
He said that if his colleagues are willing to tax residents and small business owners with revenue generators, such as an increased bottle tax, that he hopes they will be willing to tax a multi-national corporation that made $196 million in earnings last fiscal year.
The proposed tax comes at the same time the council is supposed to receive Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s proposed budget, which had to make cuts to balance a $48 million deficit.