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Voters to decide admission tax

Published Thursday, August 20, 2009

Page 1A

Westminster Window

 

By Clayton Woullard

Contributing Writer

Federal Heights City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to place a measure on the Nov. 3 ballot that would established a 4 percent tax on admissions to entertainment venues if approved by voters.

The tax, which has been discussed at length by the council and city staff in previous study sessions, would affect establishments such as strip clubs and bars that charge a cover fee, events held by businesses or organizations at churches or schools, and Water World, which would be the biggest source of revenue through the admissions tax for the city.

The council voted to hold a special meeting next Tuesday night to discuss the ballot measure further. There was some discussion on whether to hold the meeting today. Council member Dale Sparks stressed the need for urgency on moving forward.

He also pointed out that council approved of this tax four or five years ago.

“I want the staff and I want the public to know that this isn’t just something that came on the radar,” Sparks said. “We’ve been wanting to do this for a long time and we finally have the support.”

Council member Tanya Ishikawa added that she wanted to make sure the ballot measure was seen as a positive thing.

“We do need to be creative and find other revenue sources that are valued,” she said.

At Tuesday’s meeting city manager Dave Blanchard stressed the need for this tax before council passed the resolution.

“We are going to experience revenue shortfall but it is important for us to try to find ways to achieve revenue,” Blanchard said. “But it’s also important for us to do this in such a way that we create a very minimum amount of negative impact, especially on those who can afford it least.”

He also noted that other cities in the area also implement and admissions tax on entertainment venues within their city limits.

Federal Heights currently spends as much as it takes in – $8 million and Blanchard has said the city council could use the approximately $500,000 that’s estimated to come from the admission tax.

Blanchard said a few previous mayors and city council members have given their support to this measure.

“Again it’s a fair tax – it is revenue which is needed for the operation of our city. And I think tonight, earlier this evening puts that in perspective,” Blanchard said, referring to a study session item before the formal meeting in which council heard from Police Chief Les Acker about gang problems in the city. “We have serious criminal issues to deal with (and) a very limited police force.”

Blanchard reminded council that if this ballot measure doesn’t pass, services will have to be reduced and job cuts are undesirable. He also pointed out that for every $100 in property tax a Federal Heights resident pays, only 63 cents goes toward the city’s general fund.

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