Will an admission tax raise ticket prices at Kings Island next year?
By Robert NilesThe 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.
Published: November 11, 2009 at 10:14 AM
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?
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