Howard County Council tables swim club tax break bill

Lawmakers will discuss the bill again at the end of the month

July 07, 2011|By Mary Gail Hare, The Baltimore Sun

The County Council will wait until the end of the month to decide on a tax-relief measure for nonprofit swim clubs. But the five-member panel did unanimously approve an amendment that clarifies language in the pool bill to make it reflect existing state law.

The credit would apply to clubs that use their facilities "exclusively to provide a recreational outlet for a local community," according to the amendment. Some officials had questions about whether the bill would conflict with state policy on credits for nonprofits.

"Essentially, the new language makes our bill exactly mirror the state legislation," Democratic Councilwoman Courtney Watson of Ellicott City, primary sponsor of the measure, said Monday. "We are tabling the bill to allow the council time to study all the ramifications."

Watson contends the pools provide a public service and she has sought to use state law to give struggling owners a break on county property taxes, which combined amount to nearly $53,000 annually. Several pool owners have addressed the council and provided details of their difficulties

"We want to do what we can to support these nonprofit pools," she said.

Council members spent time touring the pools over the holiday weekend in an effort to understand the problems owners are facing with aging infrastructure and, for some, dwindling membership.

"We look forward to getting all issues resolved and hopefully moving forward with this bill," said Republican Councilman Greg Fox, who represents the western county.

The council has scheduled a July 28 legislative session, which Watson insisted will be the deadline for a vote.

"We will not extend this issue into August," she said.

In other business, the council unanimously approved legislation that changes parking regulations for funeral homes from the current 10 parking spaces for each viewing room and one for each employee. According to the newly enacted law, the businesses must provide one parking spot for every 50 square feet of public space within the facility.

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