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Irwin revives proposed amusement tax |

Irwin revives proposed amusement tax

Joe Napsha
| Monday, February 4, 2019 1:30 a.m
Joe Napsha | Tribune-Review
The Lamp Theatre in Irwin had about $572,000 in ticket sales in 2018.

Irwin officials are reviving a controversial proposal to create an amusement tax that would increase the price of event tickets sold in the borough by 5 percent — a levy that would hit hardest the revitalized Lamp Theatre.

Council is expected to discuss the ordinance during a workshop meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday . A voting meeting is scheduled Feb. 13.

The issue was postponed at the Jan. 9 meeting when council members tabled a vote to enact the tax as it was written in 2018. The fee would apply to ticket sales or entry fees into entertainment venues, unless the event were sponsored by a nonprofit organization, such as a church or school.

The issue of an amusement tax has been idle since October.

At the time, council President Rick Burdelski said the decision was postponed because officials from the Lamp wanted more time to operate under the existing ticket fees without having to deal with a tax. Burdelski said there could be a “fiery discussion” over aspects of the tax. Were it to pass, Burdelski said, he would want to see it implemented this year.

Council members last year also discussed levying a flat $1 fee on the tickets to make it easier for accounting purposes, since ticket prices vary for different performances.

Leslie Savage, who heads council’s finance committee, said she still is forming her opinion on the tax.

“I’m listening to all sides,” Savage said.

John Gdula, president of The Lamp Theatre Corp., the nonprofit that operates the facility, said he would await further information about the proposed tax before commenting.

The Lamp last year had approximately $572,000 in ticket sales, which would have generated an estimated $28,600 in revenue for the borough through a 5 percent tax. It is unclear how much a dollar-per-ticket fee would have generated.

The Antonelli Event Center is another venue in Irwin that would be affected by an amusement tax, but co-owner Greg Antonelli said most of the performances there are sponsored by nonprofit organizations that would be exempt from paying the extra fee. Antonelli said he may have only one or two performances a year that would be impacted by the tax.

Council members last year justified the tax because of the services the borough provides — police and fire protection — and the cost of maintenance to the Lamp building, which the borough owns. The tax on tickets could be passed on to patrons, as is done in Pittsburgh with sporting events, council members said.

If Irwin were to pass the amusement tax, it would be the only municipality in Westmoreland County with one that impacts theatres. There is no amusement tax for the Palace Theatre in Greensburg, the AMC Classic Westmoreland 15 movie theater in Hempfield, the Casino Theatre in Vandergrift, the Diamond Theatre of Ligonier or the Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale.

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

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

Categories: News | Westmoreland
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