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US Lacrosse in line for property tax credit from Baltimore County

US Lacrosse, the national governing body for the popular and growing sport, is in line to have the property taxes for its new headquarters in Sparks wiped out by Baltimore County.

The County Council is considering a resolution to give US Lacrosse a credit against the property taxes on the $15 million headquarters that opened last year.

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The value of the tax credit would be more than $150,000 annually, said Councilman Wade Kach, who is sponsoring the tax credit resolution.

State law allows such breaks for certain types of recreational or community properties in Baltimore County. Kach, a Cockeysville Republican, said the credit will be made up by the revenue US Lacrosse brings to the county through tourism and promotion.

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"The revenues far outweigh this tax credit," Kach said.

The 12-acre complex at the intersection of York Road and Loveton Circle includes a three-story office building for 90 employees, a lighted field with locker rooms and the Lacrosse Museum and National Hall of Fame.

The county did not provide any incentives for US Lacrosse to build its headquarters in Sparks, county spokeswoman Fronda Cohen said.

US Lacrosse CEO Steve Stenersen said the nonprofit learned of the tax credit and "determined that it was prudent and appropriate to pursue the credit in this fashion, particularly because it will help to reduce costs for our organization, which brings, and will continue to bring, a wealth of benefits to Baltimore County and its citizens."

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Receiving a break on property taxes will help the nonprofit organization be "responsible stewards" of the donations it receives, Stenerson wrote in an email.

The state law, which has been amended several times over the years, gives Baltimore County authority to grant tax credits for certain properties. Some, including community associations and recreational organizations across the county, are named in the legislation.

Currently 19 organizations receive a total of $92,639.57 in annual tax credits, according to county budget officials. The credits range in value from $121 for the Friends of Oliver House in Chase to $29,126.90 for Leadership Through Athletics, which owns a gym in Lansdowne.

In its most recent annual report, for 2015, US Lacrosse said it had $21.9 million in annual revenues and $18.9 million in expenses. The affiliated US Lacrosse Foundation has an endowment of $4.9 million.

Stenersen said US Lacrosse provides "significant free access" to the Sparks facility to recreational groups, and gives grants and educational resources to help grow the sport locally. The museum is open on weekdays and during games.

US Lacrosse draws more than 16,000 visitors from out of town each year for national team tryouts and exhibitions, college and youth tournaments and meetings.

The language in the County Council resolution says it is up to the county's Office of Budget and Finance to determine the amount of the tax credit. Kach said he intends it to cover all of US Lacrosse's property taxes.

The Sparks property is assessed at $14.85 million. At the county's tax rate of $1.10 per $100 of assessed value, that works out to more than $163,000 in property taxes.

Kach said the county government takes in well more than that from sales, hotel and other taxes related to activity at the US Lacrosse headquarters. Visitors to the complex spend their money locally, he said.

He also said having the sport's governing body located in Baltimore County is a point of pride. The organization moved to the county after outgrowing its previous home in Baltimore City.

"This is quite a feather in the cap of the county," Kach said.

Kach introduced the tax credit resolution in April, but it has not been discussed at a council work session or meeting. Kach said he deferred action until US Lacrosse provides paperwork to the county related to its nonprofit status. A vote on the resolution has not been rescheduled.

Stenersen said the paperwork should be completed in the next week.

US Lacrosse has more than 450,000 members, with goals for continued growth. The organization's strategic plan includes developing a sanctioning program for events, expanding the sport into areas where it's not currently played, increasing participation by athletes of color and gaining recognition from the International Olympic Committee.

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