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California doesn't vote on amusement tax ordinance

| Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, 12:21 a.m.

Students and an official from California University of Pennsylvania urged borough council to vote down a proposed amusement tax ordinance this week.

In the end Thursday, the matter never came up for a vote.

The proposal would enact a 10 percent tax on a long list of amusement-related activities for which admission fees are charged.

It would include such events as theatrical performances, concerts, trade shows, craft shows, art shows and sporting events.

Under Ordinance 536, the following would not be subject to the tax: admissions to motion picture theaters; events at which the majority of participants are younger than 18; and activities that constitute a public charity or are exempted from tax liability in the Local Tax Enabling Act.

Craig Butzine, Cal U vice president for marketing and university relations, told council he chose to speak about “the moral issues of this unfair, targeted tax.”

“In some municipalities, an amusement tax has been enacted because there is an entertainment venue operating with no ‘in lieu of tax' payments being made to the municipality to cover any impact the venue may have on municipal operating costs,” Butzine said.

“That is not the case with California University of Pennsylvania and the Borough of California. The university has made significant ‘in lieu of tax' payments to the borough on a consistent basis.

“I urge the borough council to vote Ordinance 536 down, and to join the university in working together to improve our total community — both for the lifelong residents living here and for the many students who chose to be a part of California University and the California borough. Work with them, not against them.”

Butzine said the tax would have been passed on to students every time they purchase tickets for such things as athletic events, concerts, comedy nights, and theatrical performances.

Students told council they live in California and contribute to the borough through such service projects as Relay for Life, The Big Event and Greek service work, and by supporting local businesses.

Graduate student Autumn Harris reminded council that most university events are open to the public, so community members also would be paying higher ticket prices.

“I am a proud student of the university and currently involved in numerous clubs and organizations, including the (Student Association Inc.) board of directors,” student government member Chelsea Getsy said.

“These wonderful assets to my college experience allow me to explore beyond the 15 hours a week I spend inside the classroom. Through them, I have grown from a student to a student leader; from a citizen to a volunteer; from a friend to a mentor; and from a fellow resident to an advocate.

“This tax would be detrimental to our already tight budgets, astonishingly painful to our student activities board, and infinitely damaging to every citizen ... by taking away the opportunity for some to attend amusement events as a family.

“We are the future. We, as a community, are the future. Why place a burden on the future?”

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or