News Column

Mount Carbon planning to impose amusement tax to raise revenue

February 27, 2014

By Stephen J. Pytak, Republican & Herald, Pottsville, Pa.

Feb. 27--MOUNT CARBON -- The borough is planning to impose an amusement tax, which would force a rock concert venue to give up 10 percent of its admission rates.

"Business is tough enough to begin with," said Michael W. Glauda, who co-owns Goodfella's Entertainment Complex at 1105 S. Centre St. with his wife, Deborah A.

"From what I understand, they're going to have more shows down there. So, the more shows they have, the more revenue the borough will have," Mount Carbon Mayor Jeffrey J. Dunkel said Wednesday.

Michael W. Glauda plans to bring his concerns to the borough council's next regular meeting, slated for 7 p.m.March 11 at the borough's temporary meeting quarters next to the firehouse garage on Main Street.

The borough council may vote on the proposed "Mt. Carbon Amusement Tax Ordinance" at that meeting, according to a legal notice published in Wednesday's edition of The Republican-Herald.

"The purpose of this ordinance is the raising of general revenue," according to a copy of the proposed ordinance, provided to the newspaper Wednesday by borough Secretary/Treasurer Susan B. McCord.

"The money will be used for recreation and a potential borough building," Dunkel said.

Early Oct. 4, fire destroyed a vacant home at 118 Main St., owned by Tracey E. Craig, Coatesville, Chester County. It also destroyed 116 Main St., home of Linda McElvaney, and 120 Main St., the headquarters of Mount Carbon-North Manheim Township Fire Company No. 1 and the borough council.

Dunkel said the council is still in talks with fire company officials about possible construction plans, and those talks may continue at the next council meeting.

Another municipality in Schuylkill County that has an amusement tax is Cass Township. It's been in place since 1983, and it's a "rate of 10 percent of the established price charged the general public," according to a copy of the township ordinance.

The owners of Big Diamond Raceway, Frederick and Krista Roehrig, Minersville, aren't fans. Krista Roehrig insisted the rate was 5 percent when contacted Wednesday.

"We pay basically 5 percent of our ticket prices, the gross profit. The average price of a ticket is $12, and we have an average of 20 events per year. So, we're paying anywhere from $10,000 to $22,000 to the township for this tax every year," Krista Roehrig said.

She called it a "burden tax."

"Businesses still have to pay their state taxes, including their personal taxes and business taxes. Why add another tax? It's counter-productive. We're all struggling. It's a tough economy. And in turn, we get nothing, absolutely nothing," Krista Roehrig said.

"The reason necessitating the imposition of this tax is to generate additional revenue for Cass Township," according to a legal ad the township published in The Pottsville REPUBLICAN in June 1983.

"They say it's for general purposes for the township. It's vague. It's very vague," Krista Roehrig said.

Glauda said if Mount Carbon approves an amusement tax, Goodfella's would like something in return: "I'd like the borough to help with crowd control when we have some big events. And I'd like some additional lighting outside."

This is the second time in recent years the Borough of Mount Carbon had such a tax. It was in place in 2005 and 2006, according to the archives of The Republican-Herald.

Dunkel said the owners of Goodfella's had issues with the previous ordinance.

"There were some questions regarding the validity and the adoption of it," Dunkel said.

Dunkel said the borough only collected $2,500 when the tax was enacted for "a year and a half," but did not know the exact dates when interviewed Wednesday.

Borough Solicitor Chris Riedlinger, Pottsville, said he was not the borough's solicitor at the time and could not comment on what happened to the previous amusement tax.

One of the reasons why the borough decided to bring the amusement tax back is word that Goodfella's might be holding more concerts, Dunkel said.

Glauda said usually Goodfella's hosts "six or seven" concerts a year. For example, there's a show March 8 featuring three bands, Tantric, Skin-N-Bones and Adrenalyn, according to the venue's website.

"Maybe I'll have 15 to 20 concerts by 2015," Michael Glauda said.

Riedlinger said he will make sure all steps are taken to properly enact the new ordinance.

"It must be advertised once a week for three successive weeks," Reidlinger said.

According to a legal notice published in Wednesday's edition of the newspaper, the borough's proposed ordinance would levy a tax of "10 percent on the charge on all admission charges in excess of $10."

"The estimated revenue expected to be derived from the tax would be $5,000 to $10,000 annually," according to the notice.

The proposed ordinance also includes a section for fines and penalties, with "a civil penalty of $600 per violation."

When contacted for comment on the proposed ordinance Wednesday, G. Terry Madonna, a professor of public policy at Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, said he wasn't familiar with the Borough of Mount Carbon. He was surprised to hear the size of its population.

Mount Carbon has a population of 91, according to the website for the U.S. Census Bureau at www.census.gov.

"Now, it might be closer to 100," Dunkel said Wednesday.

"I knew there were small boroughs, but I didn't know there were boroughs with fewer than 100 people. You learn something every day," Madonna said.

"A lot of local governments are hard-pressed right now for revenue. Not sure how many employees they have, but that all plays into it. Today what you read about mostly are things like health care costs and pensions," Madonna said.

"The tax would be imposed for the raising of needed general revenue," according to the legal notice published Wednesday.

The borough's 2014 budget is "about $29,000," Dunkel said.

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(c)2014 the Republican & Herald (Pottsville, Pa.)

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Source: Republican & Herald (Pottsville, PA)


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