ANNAPOLIS, JAN. 18 -- Prince George's County Executive Parris Glendening said today he may seek authority to impose a 5 percent tax on the telephone bills of county residents to help fill a growing budget gap.
Glendening raised the prospect Thursday when he met with the county's Senate delegation here, but he said today it is only one option under consideration.
After cutting the county's budget and firing 190 workers, Glendening said, "As executive, I have the responsibility to say when enough is enough."
The phone tax would raise $5.8 million a year for the county.
Glendening said another option he is looking at is raising existing taxes by $12 million. He declined to specify what those other taxes would be, saying he had not yet discussed them with the County Council.
Glendening said the phone tax, which would have to be approved by the General Assembly and then by the County Council, is similar to levies already in effect in the District and in Montgomery and Anne Arundel counties as well as several jurisdictions in Northern Virginia.
However, even the possibility of a new tax met quick resistance from Prince George's County legislators, who would be the first to deal with such a proposal.
Asked what chance such a proposal would have, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Prince George's) replied: "Zero."
Sen. Leo Green (D-Prince George's), chairman of the Senate delegation, said most lawmakers are reluctant to discuss taxes after an election widely interpreted as having an anti-tax theme.
"The reaction initially was a long pause and a question, 'How, sir, are you reading the tea leaves?' " Green said.
House sentiment is reported to be mixed, with most delegates from the county leaning against the proposal.
In an interview, Glendening said he was testing reaction. "I'm not asking for an immediate vote," he said. "I'm asking people to think through a couple of things."
As early as August, Glendening began cutting back county spending as the slumping economy began driving down tax collections. He already has trimmed about $70 million, or 7 percent, from the current budget, but projected today that overall cuts and transfers could total $85 million by June 30.
The projected shortfall for the year beginning July 1 could reach $70 million, Glendening added.