After a bloated unpaid property tax bill nearly torpedoed the Nile Swim Club in Delaware County, the historic African-American club’s board was on track to get out of the red in the coming months.
“We’re in great shape,” said Christopher Sample, president of the club’s board. “It’s good. People are excited. They’ve really come through.”
As of Monday, the club’s board has paid approximately $62,000 in back taxes for the pool property and its adjacent parking lot, said Kiersten Coons, a cashier for the Delaware County Treasurer’s Office. The club still faces more than $165,000 in back taxes.
But Sample contested those figures, saying the county’s system has yet to be updated. The club has paid off back taxes to Yeadon Borough and the county, Sample said, and estimated the club owes approximately $90,000 to the William Penn School District.
“We’re moving ahead,” he said.
Sample expects to pay off the remainder of the club’s debt by March.
Yeadon Tax Collector Julianne James confirmed the club has squared its debts with the borough.
“For my books, they’re up to date,” James said.
Delaware County Treasurer John Dowd, who was retiring Monday after three dozen years of working for the county, said the current board of the Nile Swim Club appeared “very sincere in wanting to clean their bill up.”
“I’ve dealt with a few of the boards in the past, but these individuals, volunteers are very conscientious of wanting to keep that swimming pool open,” he said. “I think anyone with that drive will meet their needs. Come September, I think they’ll clear a lot of this up.”
Business administrators with the William Penn School District did not immediately return a call seeking comment Monday.
The pool club, located at 513 S. Union Ave., became the first African-American owned and operated swim club in the nation when it opened its gates in 1959. At the time, Yeadon’s Black families were denied membership to the white swim club in the borough.
Financial troubles have dogged the nonprofit during the past decade. The pool filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2010 and again in 2016.
The club was faced with a $270,000 bill for back taxes and a delinquent tax sale by the Delaware County Tax Claim Bureau in September. The club’s board renegotiated its debt, got officials to reduce the penalties and interest on its debt, and went on a payment plan.
The swim club has raised $81,732 as of Monday since launching a fundraising campaign in September. The club’s goal is $1 million.
The majority of the 154 donations were less than $500, but two donors stood out, according to the fundraising website.
The Penn Wood Foundation, an independent, community-based nonprofit that supports the William Penn School District, donated $39,200, and an anonymous donor put up $25,000.
Looking forward to 2019, Sample said increasing membership is among the top priorities for 2019, as well as pursuing partnerships and sponsorship opportunities. The swim club sold approximately 145 memberships this past summer.
In addition, the board will challenge the club’s 2019 tax assessment in order to reduce its approximate $32,000 annual tax bill, Sample said. The board recently paid for a private appraisal of the property, he added.
The swim club was assessed at $233,290, and the parking lot at $118,160, according to county tax records.