BOWIE – A local pool in the Bowie community is struggling financially and its representatives approached the city council seeking relief from property taxes. On Nov. 23, the city council approved a tax relief for the Bowie Swim and Racquet clubs at a six-to-one vote. Steve Clark, member of the board of directors of the […]
BOWIE – A local pool in the Bowie community is struggling financially and its representatives approached the city council seeking relief from property taxes.
On Nov. 23, the city council approved a tax relief for the Bowie Swim and Racquet clubs at a six-to-one vote.
Steve Clark, member of the board of directors of the Belair Swim and Racquet Club, said the club has simply come to a point where the membership used to be 750 members and is now well under that capacity.
“The swim clubs have been a big part of the community and a big help to the community with the families,” Clark said. “We are asking them to pass the ordinance to help turn the membership around. We just need a little bit of help right now. With the help of the city, we can turn this around and build value in the community amongst our families.”
Dante Cipriano, president of the board of directors of the Pointer Ridge Swim and Racquet Club, said the swim clubs provide a great place for kids to visit all summer long. The club also works with the community to make it a great place for families to come.
“A lot of teenagers go and it’s affordable for them and their parents,” Cipriano said. “People who are not members could even attend some of the swim club’s events.”
The swim club first approached the council about a tax relief for swim clubs on Oct. 12, concerning the four neighborhood pools that are considered Bowie institutions. Prince George’s County has already taken such action on the matter and there is a state law that specifically enables municipalities to provide tax credit to nonprofit swim clubs.
“It has come to a point where membership has fallen so low that we are having a lot of trouble making ends meet,” Cipriano said. “I would hate to see our community lose this resource. I would hate to see my children lose this resource.”
The cost of this tax modification for the four pools is estimated at $15,000 to $20,000 on an annual basis. City Manager David Deutsch said the city staff recommended the tax break and has put into perspective how the tax relief will benefit the community.
“You have these four neighborhood swim clubs that have been part of the community for 40 years or more and provide recreational amenities for hundreds of young people and their families,” Deutsch said. “They said they are having financial difficulty providing this service.”
Cipriano said the swim and racquet club currently has 98 members.
“The more members we lose, the higher we have to raise our dues to make up that amount,” Cipriano said. “We have about $1,000 worth of tree removal falling into someone’s yard that we have to take care of and we also have aging infrastructure.”
City Councilmember Diane Polangin opposed the tax relief approval stating that she “was against it when it came up a couple of years ago and is still against it because everybody’s going to want to come into the city and want it.” Polangin does not think private clubs should be receiving tax breaks.
“It is not a non-profit. It is a not for profit. There is a difference,” Polangin said. “Non-profits do charitable work and your donations to them are tax deductible. I just don’t think it’s fair to be giving that tax break.