Add Canal Winchester to the list of Ohio cities that are either considering or already have an admissions tax on the books.
City Council, citing a need for further review, tabled an ordinance May 21 that would, if enacted, impose a 3 percent admissions tax on such places as theaters, athletics pavilions and fields, bowling alleys, night clubs, campgrounds, circuses and other events and attractions.
The charge would not apply to nonprofit or school events or city celebrations such as the Blues & Ribfest or the Labor Day Festival.
The admissions tax, if it is enacted, would apply to for-profit BrewDog's U.S. headquarters in Canal Winchester.
Tanisha Robinson, CEO of BrewDog USA, was supportive of the admissions tax but urged council in May to make sure the language is clear in the ordinance.
"Certainly, we have our sights on doing an event space, like a music venue, where we attract a few thousand people and charge admission," Robinson said. "Again, totally fine -- as long as we get clarity what is an admission charge and what isn't. We don't want to get on the slippery slope of food and beverage, which was the initial language."
"We've been presented with a revised version, which is a step in the right direction, but it still isn't ready for prime time," council President Bruce Jarvis said of the draft ordinance from city Law Director Gene Hollins.
It's not clear when the proposed ordinance might appear again on council's agenda.
While some cities have been taxing admissions for decades, state lawmakers put it into the Ohio Revised Code in 1998, permitting municipalities to levy taxes on admissions.
In most states, but not Ohio, admissions are subject to sales tax.
Two-thirds of the places in Ohio that have an admissions tax levy it at a rate of 3 percent, according to 2015 data -- the latest available -- from the Ohio Department of Taxation.
Of the 63 cities with admissions taxes, 17 reported no revenue from the tax in 2015, including Reynoldsburg, which has a 3 percent rate. Obetz (2.5 percent) collected $6,358.
Columbus does not have an admissions tax, but Cleveland does -- it's the largest in Ohio at 8 percent and is included in the cost of Cleveland Indians tickets and other entertainment events. According to the state tax department, Cleveland collected $16 million from its admissions tax in 2015, which amounts to more than half of the total reported for all cities in Ohio.
Mayor Mike Ebert said Canal Winchester has seen decreased revenue from a variety of sources, including local government funds, property rollback taxes, gas and excise taxes and state and local highway tax distributions, along with the elimination of the estate tax.
"I have read articles that since the state has been taking away from the municipalities and the townships and the villages, within that time frame, there have been over 80 cities in the state of Ohio who have had to raise their income tax rates," Ebert said during council's May 7 meeting. "Most of them went a half-percent or more.
"We're also protecting the unknowns for the future," he said. "We could have another BrewDog come in. We could have a big hotel come in that has events. That's what we're looking at."
Councilman Mike Coolman said restaurants in town might want to have a holiday bazaar, as they have had in the past. Historically, no more than 100 people have attended, he said.
"But what if they have a big bash?" he said. "We're really putting this on the books, in my opinion, because we're after the big events."
It's not known how much the admissions tax could generate for the city, but Jarvis would like to prioritize using the funds in correlation with events.
"In other words, we have capital improvement plans that deal with our roads and infrastructure," he said. "That, to me, is what is impacted by large events. We should state as a priority that the funds should be used for that."