By Linda Dillman
With decreases in government funding, rollbacks and lower tax receipts, the city of Canal Winchester is hunting for new revenue sources and could institute a 3 percent admission tax.
The tax, according to a draft ordinance, would impact every person who pays an admission charge for entertainment such as golf outings, concerts, and special events. For-profit sponsored events requiring paid admission—like a cover charge—would be subject to the tax.
“Everything the state does costs us money,” said Mayor Mike Ebert at an April 16 Canal Winchester City Council work session. “I don’t think 3 percent is going to hurt. We have to be forward thinking.”
Non-profit organizations holding fundraisers could obtain waivers. For paid entertainment coupled with a fundraiser, such as a circus or ball game sponsored by a non-profit, the tax would be imposed on the for-profit entity charge, but not the 5013C portion of the ticket.
“Each event would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis,” said Development Director Lucas Haire.
However, businesses that conduct multiple events, would be eligible for a blanket permit in filing admission tax receipts.
According to the legislation, the tax is charged on admission for season tickets or subscriptions, a minimum service charge, a cover charge or a charge made for the use of seats and tables, and similar accommodations, green fees, food and refreshment charges in any place where any free entertainment, recreation or amusement is provided; charges for the rental or use of equipment, facilities or other property for the purposes of recreation or amusement, or a combined charge where the rental equipment or facilities is necessary to the enjoyment of the privileges for which a general admission is charged; and parking fees.
Venues identified in the proposed ordinance include theatres, auditoriums, stadiums, athletic pavilions and fields, golf courses, golf driving ranges, skating rinks, night clubs, lecture halls, archery and shooting ranges, campgrounds, recreational vehicle parks, baseball and athletic parks, circuses, sideshows, flea markets, swimming pools, and all places where any form of recreation, sport or pastime is offered or provided within the city.
Councilman Bruce Jarvis worried the tax could unintentionally hurt a business or organization and he wants more information.
“I’m at a similar place,” said Councilman Will Bennett. “It (tax) would make sense if we have an entertainment venue like a mystery theatre or an escape room. It’s something to definitely consider, but I don’t know if this is the right time.”
Councilman Mike Coolman said as the population grows and revenue declines, the city needs to find ways to generate income.
“It’s (tax) is something we should consider,” said Coolman, who also wants more details. “This is a tax on things that charge an admission.”
The ordinance had a first reading at the April 16 council meeting.