Baker: Property taxes would have to be raised without casino

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Local,Maryland,Ben Giles

Cash-strapped Prince George's County officials will be hard-pressed to come up with better ways to raise revenue than a casino at National Harbor, County Executive Rushern Baker said.

Baker's staff estimates that a casino along the Potomac River, one with the potential to attract customers from the District, Virginia and visitors from across the nation, would draw roughly $69 million annually in county revenues.

To raise that much money in a more conventional manner, Baker said he would have to raise Prince George's County property taxes by 10 percent. The rate is now capped at96 cents per $100 assessed value, and can't be raised without the approval of Prince George's County voters.

The county has run out of options to raise revenue on its own, Baker said, and without a casino, officials will be left asking the state for more help to fund its local programs.

"We're looking for job opportunities for people in Prince George's County, and we're looking for revenues," Baker said.

The local tax revenue from the casino would go toward solving some of the social ills the county's clergy and civic leaders cite as a reason to keep gambling out of the county. But Baker notes that there are already gamblers in Prince George's -- they simply have to spend their money elsewhere, he said. - Ben Giles

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