Tag Archive for reform

This Is Not A Post About Roller Coasters

Want proof that reforming an Amusement Tax is a great thing?

Look no further than Kennywood Amusement Park in West Millflin, PA.

The 111 year old amusement park had fought local officials for YEARS about the fairness (or lack thereof) of their local Amusement Tax before winning the reform.

Last April, West Mifflin officials and Kennywood brass came to an amicable agreement which made both parties happy…and saved the century-old park nearly two million dollars per year in payouts.

And TODAY- Kennywood announced they’ll be building a brand new roller coaster…to the tune of five million dollars.

Think that the reform of the Amusement Tax had anything to do with that?

You betcha.

Wake up, Harrisburg. It’s 2009. Get with the times or you won’t HAVE any great businesses to tax out of town.

Amusement Tax Relief Coming Soon

Finally. internet-hi-five

After nearly five years of poking the administration with a stick, we’re about to (hopefully) see a major change in Harrisburg’s Amusement Tax.

If you’ve read this blog even once, you probably know that the Amusement Tax issue has been my “cross to bear” since the beginning. I’ve drafted proposals, begged, pleaded and attempted to coerce City Council to take some action based on the fact that a promoters profit on a concert is anywhere from ten to fifteen percent of gross ticket sales and factoring in the city’s demand for ten percent of ticket sales leaves the promoter with practically nothing in the end.

I can’t tell you how many shows I’ve done when the City has received more in Amusement Tax than I’ve made in profit- but it’s been more than I’d like to admit.

But if things go well with legislation which is currently being drafted, independent promoters of shows in venues with 500 or fewer people in the City of Harrisburg are about to get a ten percent raise on their bottom line (you’re welcome).

Here’s the long and short of it: a few months ago, OutWithSara introduced me to Mayor Reed at McGraths Pub following the taping of our first podcast. The initial meeting went like this:

Sara: Mayor Reed? This is Mike Van Jura…he’s the blogger known as Jersey Mike.

Reed: (quizzical look) So YOU’RE Jersey Mike. I’ve certainly heard YOUR name more than once.

Me: Heh. Likewise, sir. It’s nice to finally meet you.

After the pleasantries were out of the way, I dove right into it. The main issue I’ve had with living, working and doing business in this city is the Amusement Tax. And, frankly, if the City would just level the playing field for independent promoters, I’d probably quit complaining so much. What’s a guy gotta do to get a tax reformed?

Not give up, apparently.

Over the next month-or-so, I ran into the Mayor two more times. Both of which he assured me that he’d do some research and let me know if we’d be able to work something out with the issue.

About a month ago, I got a phone call from his secretary scheduling a meeting for a Friday afternoon in May. Unfortunately, that particular Friday was of the week of the primary election. And we all know how that turned out.

So we rescheduled to this past Wednesday afternoon.

I arrived on time- and waited patiently for our first non-barroom sit-down.

And it began.

You see, the Amusement Tax cannot be amended because of a Commonwealth law prohibiting it. I don’t know exactly which law, but it’s in there nonetheless. So the ordinance- 32-1982- cannot be modified.

Reed went on to explain that what he’s going to do is as follows: the law bureau is drafting legislation which calls for the abolition of the Amusement Tax. (!!!) In it’s place will be a new “event fee” imposed on events which have more than five hundred people attending.

Which is exactly what I proposed to council some two years ago.

Now, don’t misread this- the fights not over yet.

The legislation needs to be drafted, presented to council, put into committee (likely Budget and Finance), researched, taken out of committee and brought before council for a vote.

My heart says that they’ll approve it.

But my mind says that we still may have miles to go before we sleep.

Anyway we slice it, though, this can certainly be chalked up as a “Win” for local, independent promoters in Harrisburg.

Stay tuned…