Will an admission tax raise ticket prices at Kings Island next year?
The Mason, Ohio town council will vote Nov. 23 on enacting an admission tax
that would add 3 percent to Kings Island
tickets and 5 percent to parking fees at the Cedar Fair-owned amusement park.
The council member who is proposing the tax said that it will raise an unspecified number of "millions of dollars" to pay for infrastructure repairs and improvements. The park said that it will depress attendance and cause it to lay off employees and cut back charitable contributions to the community.
According to the latest TEA/ERA report, Kings Island attracted 3,126,000 visitors in 2008 (2009 data is not yet available). Cedar Fair reported to the SEC that its average guest spent $39.73 per visit in admission, parking, food and merchandise in 2009. Cedar Fair also reported that admissions represented 56 percent of its revenue to date in 2009, so let's take $22 per visit as a very rough estimate of Kings Island's attendance revenue.
Cedar Fair also reported at 6 percent decline in attendance at its parks in 2009. Using that same figure for Kings Island, that gives the park an estimated 2,938,440 in attendance this year. Multiply that by the $22 per visit, and you've got $64.6 million in admission revenue. Three percent of that is about $1.9 million. Figure about three people per car and a $10 parking fee, and you're looking at about another half-million bucks for the parking tax.
That's about $2.4 million total from the proposed tax.
Is it worth it?
My view is that cities responsible for providing roads, sewers, utilities, security, planning and inspections at and immediately around a theme park absolutely should tax the park and its visitors for those services. If pay for park employees isn't sufficient to cover their basic living expenses and health care, then taxes from the park should help pay for public assistance to those employees as well. Local taxpayers shouldn't have to subsidize the expense of having that park in the community. (If they choose to do so, as an inducement to get a park to locate there, fine, but that's their choice. They shouldn't have to do it, though.)
At the same time, visitors to the park shouldn't be soaked to cover the costs of a community's other expenses, such as infrastructure elsewhere in the community, schools and public assistance to people not employed by the park. (So, Florida, quit soaking your tourists for basic state expenses and enact your own state income tax.)
I don't know what the Mason council envisions doing with this money, or how much it currently gets from Kings Island and its visitors. But I thought that some calculations might be helpful in letting the public know just how much money we're talking about here. Thoughts?
It sounds like a reasonable policy, I just think it's the wrong time to implement it.
I'd want to know - is Mason's city sales tax already being applied? Best I can gather, Ohio state plus county tax in Mason is 6.5% (source: Ohio Department of Taxation) and according to Bestplaces.net the overall sales tax in Mason is 7.00% - which would imply a city tax of 0.5%.
I'm in agreement with you Robert. If this money is going to improve infrastructure around the park (roads, sewage, traffic lights, etc), then fine. I'm not sure what exactly they have in mind, as the area around Kings Island looks in pretty good shape to me.
Sorry, not exactly related, but I was called yesterday from the service that renews Six Flags Season Passes (good deal right about now for 2010) anyway, I asked if Six Flags was going to remain open because if they close, we season pass holders would be penalized for buying early. Anyway, she said, yes, Great America will be open, but she also mentioned there is one Six Flags park that is not having season tickets aka might be closing.
Your views are completely valid, Robert. Does the council mention anywhere exactly
I live in Florida and work at the parks... but I do NOT want to pay income tax! So instead of Florida adding it, I say the rest of the country should get rid of it!!!
Just an outside view, but the shopping centers across from the park also uses that stretch of road... will they put in an extra tax on it? Yes I know I am playing devil's advocate here but where does it stop and/or start.
Sorry Randy, I didn't mean to say they bring nothing to the community, as I did mention the jobs and of course tax revenue. I just think that parks seem to offer less to the local economy than other tourist attractions, as most things a guest would want are provided on-site.
Here's the deal: Doing this math really isn't difficult. Readers (you guys) want to see the numbers. We can figure out how much each player is bringing to the table in terms of incremental tax revenue, and how much each is taking off, in terms of incremental infrastructure and social expenses.
I live within 10 miles of KI, and here is what I think. I think the city is like every other city in Ohio - struggling to make ends meet. I think that Mason is looking at KI like it’s an untapped oil well. They look across state lines to places like Aurora, Indiana which is a little city with streets practically paved with gold due to a casino tax money.
There's usually a reason they don't want us to see the numbers - the people who actually care will interfere.
Criswell knows all! Let me look into my crystal ball. Ah yes, I see it now. It's all clear to me. Criswell predicts more business for Holiday World!
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