A measure that would end a tax break enjoyed by 19 country clubs in Montgomery County has been referred to a General Assembly subcommittee by the county's legislative delegation, a move that the bill's sponsor says kill it.
"If I felt this was a step toward bringing the bill back, I would have no problem," said state Del. Luiz Simmons (R), the sponsor, after a work session Thursday night. "But the practical impact of referral is to kill the bill."
Simmons' bill would have ended a preferential real estate tax assessment rate for the clubs that he claims is costing the county $1.2 million in lost revenue this year alone.
Former governor Blair Lee iii, who, as a lobbyist for the clubs, helped draft the 1965 tax law, told the legislators the law serves a valuable purpose in helping preserve the large areas of open space the clubs own. "Whether one is a member [of a club] or not, the presence of that big place of open space is a tremendou benefit," he said.
Delegation chairman David Scull (D) legal questions and the complex policy issue of subsidies for privately owned open areas still have to be studied.
Scull said he expects "some revision in the country clubs' preferential tax assessment" will emerge from the six-member subcommittee by January, but the bill hasn't drawn significant support so far from the county's legislators. t