Trimper’s Decides Not to Ask for Tax Relief After All

SNOW HILL – Trimper’s Rides will not pursue a tax credit from Worcester County to offset high property taxes, the company has informed the county.

A letter Doug Trimper, Vice President of Trimper’s Rides and Windsor Resort, wrote to the County Commissioners reads, “Never having desired preferential treatment on this issue, we will not be asking for any of your tax credits for 2008. Your budgets are already overloaded with the difficult task of providing for all your constituents. We will not ask to increase that burden.”

Attempts to help the iconic Boardwalk business went all the way to the Maryland General Assembly, which passed enabling legislation this spring allowing the Worcester County Commissioners to give tax credits to historic amusement parks in Ocean City.

In reality, the bill applies only to Trimper’s Rides and Jolly Roger Amusement Park, which also declined to ask for a tax credit, and does not mandate county action.

County Commission President Virgil Shockley felt it was to Trimper’s credit that he was not looking for a handout.

“I think he was looking to be treated equitably and fairly with his assessments,” Shockley said.

Others were stunned the family decided not to ask for tax relief after all. “I was really blown away when I read the letter we received,” said Commissioner Louise Gulyas. “I said how wonderful he realizes the crisis we were in and wasn’t coming to us,”

Commissioner Bud Church agreed, saying “I thought that was very generous of them.”

The Commissioners praised Trimper’s Rides for going through the state of Maryland appeals process for property tax assessments that the family company felt were too high.

“If you’re persistent and follow the rules, they actually do something for you,” said Shockley.

The state reduced those assessments to a more manageable level.  

“This will give us the breathing room to try and reduce our properties without closing the park for the 2009 season. Beyond that point, however, I cannot predict the course we will take,” wrote Trimper.

The commissioners praised the company for its approach. “I think they did the right thing,” Church said.

To grant tax relief, had Trimper’s asked to be considered, the commissioners would have needed proof that the high tax bill would force the closure of the company, according to Shockley.

“If you’re going to ask to get tax relief, what we as commissioners would have asked, prove to us you absolutely have to have this or go out of business,” Shockley said.

With the difficult budget situation the confronting the county, there is little likelihood that Trimper’s would have received more than token relief, if that, from the County Commissioners if the amusement park had applied for it.

“It would have been a challenge,” Church said. “I’m not sure how I would have voted. It depends what they would have asked for.”

The county is not required to hand out a tax credit to those two amusement parks under the law, simply required to think about it.

Trimper wrote to the commissioners that the law “puts us both on the spot,” and that he had hoped for something more specific.

While Trimper’s Rides are safe for another year, Trimper has doubts about the future.

“Unless some distinction is made in how amusement parks are assessed, it will not be a business than can afford to continue operation. Rides simply can no longer create enough profit to sit on such expensive ground,” Trimper wrote. “Just because something has survived 118 years doesn’t mean it has to continue forever. Sentiment is an important consideration, but economic feasibility for all concerned will ultimately be the deciding factor.”