Bowie voters will get a chance April 7 to express an opinion as to whether the city should annex the Bowie Race Course, but how they vote may have little impact on what happens.
The Bowie City Council this week voted unanimously to add the question to the upcoming city elections ballot, but the result will not be binding on the council.
The council is likely go ahead with annexation of the property -- originally suggested by the track authorities -- but must include enough incentives to make track management want to join the city.
The city itself has plenty of incentives: If the track is annexed, it will provide more than $100,000 per year in revenue from admission and amusement taxes. If it ever closes, the property will provide an excellent city residential area.
The track first made known its interest in annexation when the state recently demanded the sewage system be upgraded. Using city sewer hookups would be less expensive for the track than building a new system.
"For years and years and years, the city has wanted to annex the track, but had nothing to offer," said Councilman Dick Logue, who wrote the question that will appear on the April 7 ballot. "Now it has some sewage capacity to offer. Initially, it would save them (the track) some money on upgrading their sewage capacity. But, if push came to shove, they can build their own sewage facility and remain a race track. They don't need us."
Logue said the question was needed on the ballot because of public distrust of the gambling industry.
"There's a lot of people who make a lot of innuendo that some things are less than cricket," he said. "That's certainly not the case, but when you incorporate a gambling facility, it draws attention. The best thing to do is to allow citizens to act in an advisory capacity."
Mayor pro tem Herb Sachs said he supported Logue's wording of the question only "to get it onto the ballot." He said he favored a more involved question concerning a possible $13-to-$15 reduction in personal property taxes because of added revenues from annexation of the track, renewed efforts to build an access road to the race course to alleviate city traffic and the fight to obtain greater zoning control from the county.