ShareThis Page

Irwin drops amusement tax plans for 2019

Joe Napsha
| Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, 10:00 p.m.
Lamp Theatre in Irwin
Lamp Theatre in Irwin

Patrons of The Lamp Theatre in Irwin won’t have to pay a “ticket tax” to see a performance at the venue in 2019, nor will the theater operators have to absorb the tax next year.

Irwin Borough, which has debated for the past several months instituting an amusement tax, tabled the proposal — at least until a new council takes office in January 2020, President Rick Burdelski said.

“The Lamp wanted a little bit more time” to continue operations under the current structure that does not include an amusement tax, Burdelski said.

John Gdula, president of The Lamp Theatre Corp., the non-profit that operates the facility, said the decision to postpone any amusement tax “gives us the time to look at future budgets and better understand how it will impact future programming.”

The amusement tax was not tabled during a vote at a council meeting, and the borough did not advertise details of any amusement tax it was considering.

Council members this summer discussed levying a 5 percent tax on the admission fee for entertainment, with the exception of those events sponsored by nonprofit charitable groups such as schools and churches. Last month, council members considered changing the tax to a $1 flat fee on tickets, which would have made it easier for accounting purposes, since ticket prices vary.

An amusement tax would have had the greatest effect on The Lamp, but it also would impact any business that charges an entry fee to see entertainment — such as a movie, concert, comedy act or theater production. The Lamp Theatre, which closed in 2004, reopened in November 2015 after extensive remodeling.

Supporters of The Lamp had protested the possible implementation of the tax, claiming it would hurt the new business. During a protest in August, a supporter parked his hearse in front of the building to symbolize the death of the Lamp, if the tax was implemented.

Not having the tax next year “will help us move forward with our programming,” Gdula said.

Council members countered that such a tax would be a “pass-through” to patrons, who would essentially pay it in higher prices. They also said that the borough is responsible for major maintenance of the building because it owns the structure.

There was some consideration for approving an amusement tax this year that would not take effect until January 2020. But, according to borough solicitor Zachary Kansler, council can’t enact a tax during the tenure of one group of council members and delay its effective date until another group takes office. The seats of three Republican council members — Debbie Kelly, Michael Yunn and Burdelski — are up for election in 2019.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me