Golf course owners seek tax relief Keeping links public called too expensive

September 23, 1992|By Linda Lowe Morris | Linda Lowe Morris,Staff Writer

Keeping their golf course open to the public rather than turning it into a private country club is costing them thousands of dollars each month in taxes, say Joanne and Lee Snyder, owners of the Oakmont Green Golf Course.

Monday night, the Snyders and their lawyer, Charles Hollman, asked the Hampstead Town Council to reduce the amusement and admission taxes they pay so that it would be economically feasible for them to stay public.

"In the Maryland tax laws for admissions and amusements," Mr. Hollman said, "private clubs are favored over ones open to the public. It creates a competitive disadvantage."

The Snyders pay a 10 percent tax on greens fees, golf cart rentals and driving range fees each month. "In the last 2 1/2 months, we've paid $15,000 in amusement taxes," Mr. Snyder said.

Because of the way the tax laws are written, the Snyders would not have had to pay that amount were they operating a private country club. Private clubs are exempt from all amusement taxes, Mr. Hollman explained.

The five council members present -- Arthur Moler, John Riley, Lewis Keyser Jr., Jackie Hyatt and William Pearson Sr. -- listened as Mr. Snyder and Mr. Hollman questioned the tax's fairness.

Because they are also paying real estate taxes at the rate of $21,000 per year, and because the amusement tax is not levied uniformly on other amusements, the Snyders said, they feel that their taxes should be reduced.

They proposed retaining the current taxes on the driving range and the golf cart rental but reducing the tax on the greens fees to 2 percent or 3 percent instead of 10.

While the state of Maryland collects amusements taxes, the revenues go to the local municipality. So the Town Council has the power to reduce the amount paid.

As a public facility, about 2,000 people have been able to use the course, according to Lee Snyder. If the facility became a private country club, "only 350 people would be able to enjoy it," he said. "We're willing to provide to the public, but we need some type of help."

Oakmont Green is located 1 1/2 miles north of the center of Hampstead and is annexed into the town. Mr. Snyder's two brothers, sister and parents are part owners in the course, and the family owns Hickory Heights Golf Course in Spring Grove, Pa.

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