Committee vote on Port Covington tax increment financing expected Monday

Posted at 4:26 PM, Sep 12, 2016

Port Covington and its $660 million tax increment financing deal was on the way out of the Taxation, Finance and Economic Development Committee last Thursday until the committee chair, Councilman Carl Stokes abruptly recessed, putting the deal in limbo.

Monday in front of city hall, Stokes explained that move and why he did it.

"My colleagues have not read and I thought we should take a week and read, that's what I thought as well as let the public read. No big deal," Stokes said in a morning news conference.

Stokes said that despite this being the best deal the city ever struck with a developer, he was still concerned about the possible impact on education funding even as a new state law and language in the deal prevent that impact.

Still, Stokes says eventually, Kevin Plank's word from a one-on-one meeting and the quality of the deal won him over.

"I will be voting on all three bills affirmatively tonight,” Stokes said Monday. “I am looking forward to the final passage of those bills one week from tonight. There is no fight here from Stokes, there is no fight."

Councilman Eric Costello, who represents the district this project is in, isn't taking any more chances.

"I will believe his vote when I see it," Costello said.

Beginning last Friday morning, the District 11 councilman started a petition to work around Stokes and move the Port Covington vote out of his committee.

The petition got 10 other signatures from council members by Monday.

Monday night, Port Covington is going before the full city council, with or without Carl Stokes.

"We feel very strongly about this,” Costello said, “This is a great project for the city. Sagamore has worked very hard to make sure they came up with a great deal for the city and it is time to move the bill forward."

If passed Monday night, final passage is expected in next week's meeting and then it goes to the mayor for her signature.

Barring any more hurdles, Baltimore's largest TIF, and one of the nation's largest urban renewal projects, should be a go by next week.

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