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Maple Run Golf Course asks for change to Thurmont's amusement tax

Ed Waters Jr.
Frederick News Post

(11/21) The owner of Maple Run Golf Course asked Thurmont town officials Tuesday night to consider changing the town's amusement tax.

Jeff Ellis, owner of the golf course, noted that the county has eliminated the amusement tax. His business pays $15,000 of the $16,700 the town collects in amusement taxes annually.

"You are not giving me money," Ellis said, "but it would mean part-time jobs for five high school kids."

Ellis said tough economic times have forced him to keep fees down, and it is more competitive with courses that pay no amusement taxes.

"The easiest thing to control is payroll," Ellis said. The course owner said he is now one of only three golf courses paying the tax -- the others are Hollow Creek in Middletown and Clustered Spires in Frederick -- as all other courses are in the county.

Town Commissioner John Kinnaird said the town would have to find a way to cut the $15,000 it gets from Ellis.

"The amusement tax is now on people who have the money to spend on golf. If we cut the town's budget, it will affect all of the residents," Kinnaird said, adding that he was against the county cutting the tax.

"The county has to cut and is still cutting, but we are cut to the bone in Thurmont," Kinnaird said. Cutting the amusement tax could be opening a can of worms, Kinnaird said, as others may want cuts in town taxes.

Mayor Martin Burns said town officials would look into the issue. "I would like to look at other (golf) courses and talk with other municipalities to see what they may be doing," Burns said.

Thurmont Police Chief Chief Gregory Eyler presented lifesaving pins to David Fitzgerald and Tyler Kemp for their actions in October when they pulled a man who was on fire from a burning garage.

"They displayed bravery and courage. This is something that will stay with them all of their lives," the chief said of the traumatic incident. Kemp has since joined the Frederick Police Department.

David Armstrong, retiring from the Frederick Police Department, was sworn in as a new Thurmont Police officer by Burns.

Delegate Kathy Afzali sat in on the town meeting and encouraged town officials to contact her with any issues. She commended the town officials on how well Thurmont is run.

Asked about any major issues in Annapolis, Afzali said she was upset at the advertisements about the gambling bill recently passed.

Afzali said the ads promised money for education, but the gambling money will go to the general fund, where the governor will push for spending in major population areas and get "rubber-stamp" approval from many legislators.

"I was for the gambling issue when I first heard about it," said Afzali, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. "But after three days of testimony on it, I was against it."

The only positive thing to come out of the passage was that veterans' organizations will now be able to put gambling machines in their posts. Afzali said she fought hard to get that as an amendment to the bill.

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