The city of Canal Winchester will start collecting a 3 percent admissions tax on specified events and attractions by the end of September.
City Council discussed the proposal in the spring but tabled it for review. Members unanimously approved the tax without further discussion Aug. 27. It takes effect 30 days after that date.
It's not clear how much the admissions tax could generate for the city. According to the ordinance, "funds shall be dedicated first to capital outlay expenditures related to streets or parks. If no such projects exist or such projects are able to be funded with another revenue source, Council may appropriate funds to another project they deem fit during the budgetary process."
The admissions tax will apply to places such as theaters, amphitheaters, auditoriums, golf courses, bowling alleys, ice-skating rinks, night clubs, circuses and other events and attractions.
It will not apply to nonprofit or school events or city celebrations such as the Blues & Ribfest or the Labor Day Festival.
"I don't know that any of us were completely comfortable with this concept, but there could be future events with thousands of people, with wear and tear on streets and other infrastructure," council President Bruce Jarvis said. "These types of events have indirect costs."
The tax will affect BrewDog's U.S. headquarters in Canal Winchester. Tanisha Robinson, CEO of BrewDog USA, told council in May that the craft beer maker was supportive of the tax as long as the language in the ordinance was clear.
Mayor Mike Ebert has expressed concerns over what he says are decreased city revenues 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 Ohio's estate tax.
Ebert noted during a May council meeting that he had read information where more than 80 Ohio cities have raised income tax rates to offset reduced revenue.
State lawmakers amended the Ohio Revised Code in 1998 to permit municipalities to levy taxes on admissions.
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 the Greater Columbus Arts Council is seeking a 7 percent admissions tax and hopes to have a formal proposal to present to Columbus City Council when it returns from recess Monday, Sept. 17. If approved, it would apply to events at Ohio Stadium, Nationwide Arena, the Schottenstein Center, the Greater Columbus Convention Center, the Ohio Expo Center, Columbus Clippers games, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and other concerts, performances, movies and events .
The arts council estimates the ticket tax would generate approximately $14 million a year, with 30 percent of it -- about $4 million -- to be allocated for upgrades to Nationwide Arena and the rest going to various arts programs.
The arts council has held three public meetings about the proposed ticket tax, which has elicited opposition from some artists, concert promoters and others who say it would be detrimental.
Proponents now say they are considering ways to exempt small organizations from the tax, but Michael Gonidakis, spokesman for Advocates for Responsible Taxation, a group formed to oppose the tax, called it "a terrible idea, regardless of the size of the venue."
Cleveland's admissions tax is 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.
" ... there could be future events with thousands of people, with wear and tear on streets and other infrastructure. These types of events have indirect costs."
-- BRUCE JARVIS
City Council president