2019 | News

Democratic Socialists Demand Country Clubs Pay Fair Share in Property Taxes

Demonstrators outside Rockville course blame tax exemption for county budget deficit

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Dan Schere

On a windy Monday in front of Woodmont Country Club, 30 demonstrators from the Democratic Socialists of America clustered around an “End Tax Breaks for Country Clubs” banner and urged the county’s wealthiest country clubs to “pay their fair share” in property taxes.

The demonstrators want state lawmakers to pass legislation sponsored by Del. David Moon, a Takoma Park Democrat, that would impose a $100,000 fee on the four wealthiest country clubs in the county — Columbia Country Club, Bethesda Country Club, Kenwood Golf and Country Club and Chevy Chase Club.

Moon’s bill originally proposed ending exemptions for the country clubs and taxing them at the property’s appraised rate but it was amended last week. The bill is scheduled for a hearing Tuesday in the House Ways and Means Committee.

The Montgomery County Council recently passed a $45 million mid-year savings plan to make up a budget deficit resulting from lower-than-projected revenues.

Demonstrators who stood outside Woodmont’s Rockville Pike entrance blamed the deficit on the lack of revenue the county is able to collect from the country clubs.

“The whole reason we did a lot of different development in Montgomery County, I was always told, is that it would expand our tax base,” Rockville resident Brian Walker said.

Democratic Socialists of America organizer Elissa Laitin said that the country clubs needed to pay more in order to help make up the county’s deficit.

“It seems like every year there’s a budget deficit and the county executive says ‘we’re gonna have to make cuts.’ Marc Elrich has just come out and said there’s a $40 million budget gap. This budget gap didn’t come out of nowhere, and part of the reason is that country clubs aren’t paying their fair share like everyone else is,” she said.

David Mott, a former union organizer, said it is “terribly out of sync” that country clubs are receiving tax exemptions when the county is facing a deficit.

“This is just ridiculous that places where the public cannot go, the public is helping to fund, and there is absolutely no benefit that anyone can tell me that this tax break serves,” he said.

Representatives from Woodmont Country Club could not be reached for comment.

Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com