Senator blasts Frederick County for handling of Amazon Web Services' data center proposal

Feb. 10—Maryland state Sen. Michael Hough, a Republican running for Frederick County executive, blamed county officials Wednesday for their handling of a failed $30 billion proposal for Amazon Web Services to build data centers in multiple parts of the county.

Talks between Amazon and Frederick County ended last year, in part because Amazon and county government couldn't reach an agreement on the project's timeline. While one county official said the proposal was aggressive but feasible, several referred to Amazon's terms as "close to impossible" and "impractical."

"Ultimately, business announcements and the decision of a business to locate here is made by the business itself to achieve its goals," County Executive Jan Gardner (D) said in a prepared statement.

Hough (R-Frederick and Carroll counties) wasn't convinced.

"Frederick County blew a historic business deal which would have allowed the county to make massive investments," the senator said in a news release Wednesday.

Hough said that millions in tax revenue from data centers would have allowed the county to put funding toward preserving farmland and boosting funding for the public education system, among other things. He mentioned reporting from the News-Post in his release stating that neighboring Loudoun County, Virginia, expects more than $500 million in tax revenues from its data centers this year, with Amazon's 70 facilities there contributing much of that total.

"I have already met with Amazon and will engage other businesses to bring jobs and tax revenue to Frederick County," Hough said.

But Gardner, who is term-limited, said in a statement that Hough "seems unaware that counties in Northern Virginia gain the majority of their tax revenue from data centers through the assessment of a business personal property tax that Frederick County does not assess."

"Senator Hough demonstrates that he is a political opportunist and is not aware of what is actually happening in Frederick County," Gardner said.

Follow Jack Hogan on Twitter: @jckhogan