On President’s Day, 2019, I yelled with the protesters….”Pay your share” and “Fund education not wealthy recreation.” I was with the members of Montgomery County Democratic Socialist. We came together at the entrance of Woodmont Country Club, one of four country clubs in Montgomery county, Maryland receiving massive property tax breaks from the state. At first blush, giving property tax breaks may seem insignificant. Its four, you say! But property taxes are not simple and any homeowner can attest to that when coming up short during tax season. For example, it may be shocking to hear that Woodmont country club was assessed in 2017 to be worth $15.5 million!
Property taxes are normally determined by the county because it is the life blood for community programs. But there is nothing normal about this situation. The property tax breaks given to the country clubs were not granted by the county. Instead, key Maryland congressmen passed legislation specifically for these four country clubs. No other country clubs in the state received the same treatment. Furthermore, very little is known what benefit the country clubs are providing to Maryland residents as they are privately owned and not open to the public.
The impact is more than mere principal of giving tax breaks to these businesses while others do not obtain the same treatment. The impact is loosing approximately $10 million a year if all four country clubs pay their fair share. With Montgomery county having a $120 million shortfall in its budget, it makes no sense why the county isn’t collecting $10 million each year from these country clubs.
Yet one week after I was shouting ” $10 million can pay for $10 million disable homes,” the Montgomery County Council voted against the water downed proposal to increase the taxes on these country clubs. A necessary first step before it could go to the state, where congress could have increased the property taxes on the country clubs. Making this issue dead in the water. Increasing the chances that community programs get cut or residential property taxes are increased.