Anchorage Marina owes city more than $125,000


April 03, 1993|By Ellen James Martin | Ellen James Martin,Staff Writer

A luxury marina in Canton is six months behind on more than $125,000 in property taxes owed to Baltimore City, even though owners of the boat slips say they wrote out checks to the marina's management months ago to cover the taxes.

"We all paid in our money. But what was done with the money, we don't know," said Joseph Coughlin, a federal government official from Laurel who owns two slips at the Anchorage Marina on Boston Street and serves on its seven-member board. He said the board is conducting its own investigation of the marina's operation.

"We have a lot of irate people," Mr. Coughlin added, noting that the board is seeking to collect a special assessment to pay the city taxes but is facing protests from a number of slip owners who don't want to pay it.

Thomas McCary, the manager of the marina since it was first developed, failed to return a reporter's calls.

Martha F. Dixon, delinquent accounts supervisor for Baltimore City's department of finance, said that $125,387 in taxes, which is billed as a single unit, was due from the owners last October. Together with interest, penalties and other charges, the slip owners now owe $142,387, she said.

The city has issued a tax lien against the property and has scheduled it for the May 10 tax sale unless the tax bill is paid by then. After the auction, the marina owners would still have six months to redeem the lien by paying the taxes plus interest accrued to that point, she said.

The marina is managed by Constellation Place Corp., a cooperative association run by the owners' elected board of directors. The marina has no relationship to the Anchorage Towers, a nearby condominium building.

S. Scott Dance Jr., a slip owner and president of the marina's board, told a reporter that the back city taxes would be paid prior to the city's May 10 tax lien sale. He declined to elaborate.

Mr. Dance, president of the marina association, said there are now 400 owners of 525 slips at the Anchorage Marina.

Like Mr. Coughlin, many slip owners are concerned about how the marina's financial affairs have been managed.

"It looks like our investment is gone. That's my gut feeling," said Raymond H. Hays, a Virginia investor who has owned one yacht slip at the Canton marina since it opened.

Like other investors, Mr. Hays said he paid his property tax bill to the association but that the funds were not forwarded to the city. The city, he said, is unwilling to accept payments directly from slip owners, since the marina is billed collectively.

"We don't know where we stand," said Mr. Hays, who worries that he could lose the $22,250 investment he made in the yacht slip in 1986. The slip is now worth an estimated $38,000, he said.

Mr. Coughlin, an official of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington who purchased his slips as an investment in 1986, said many slip owners became upset after the marina's annual meeting last October when they learned that the association was facing a budgetary "shortfall."

"Evidently the tax money was used for the shortfall," he said.

He said the board is trying to determine why the marina has had financial problems and what should be done about it.

The yachting center was created in the early 1980s by developers Gale Brimhall and Dwayne Stevenson, as well as Mr. Stevenson's son, Scott. In 1991, after the developers defaulted on a loan held by Perpetual Savings Bank of Alexandria, Va., an affiliate of the bank took control of 99 boat slips and common property for $2 million.

Subsequently, Perpetual Savings Bank was taken over by federal regulators and is now in receivership with the Resolution Trust Corp., Mr. Coughlin noted. The marina building, parking lot and common walkways are assets of the RTC but are managed by the owners' association, Constellation Place Corp., he said.

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