Bell's Amusement Park signs lease with county, county seeks sales tax to buy land

Posted Tuesday, May 25, 2010 12:01 PM | Contributed by Zingo

Wagoner County Commissioners on Monday OK’d a resolution to relocate Bell's Amusement Park in the county, pending the passage of a sales tax increase in July. If voters approve a quarter-cent sales tax increase July 27, the county will use that money to buy property to relocate the park and its famous Zingo roller coaster.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010 9:56 AM

GoBucks89 said:

Jeff said:
Then I guess you tend to vote for the wrong people.

Your statement might make some sense if I was the only person with a vote in the country. But I am not. So it doesn't.

Unless "you" meant everyone in the county. ;)

Last edited by djDaemon, Thursday, May 27, 2010 9:59 AM
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Thursday, May 27, 2010 12:03 PM

I agree with that. Unfortunately everyone in the country who votes tends to vote for the wrong people in large part because the only folks on the ballot are wrong people.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010 12:41 PM

Elections aren't about electing the perfect candidate. They're about electing the best candidate from those running.

Of course, in a perfect world...

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Thursday, May 27, 2010 1:18 PM

Not talking about perfect candidates or near perfect or even anywhere in the neighborhood remotely close to perfect candidates. More and more elections are not about picking the best candidate but the least worst or least evil. Still gives us worst and evil.

But I don't want to talk politics on a coaster board. I just didn't think what I said about taxes rarely being temporary or politicians tendencies toward hanging on to revenue sources would be controversial. But maybe what I have seen over the past 25-30 years of following politics on the national, state (Ohio) and local (northeast Ohio) levels isn't the same experience others have had (both here and in other parts of the country).

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Thursday, May 27, 2010 1:30 PM

If, among two choices, you don't choose the worst, you have chosen the best, by the very definition of the word!

Just giving you a hard time though... I get your point.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010 5:42 PM

I fully understand your opinion on politics, djDeamon. The politicians in my county are being investigated for voter fraud for the second time in the last few years, by the State Supreme Court. The first time their was an investigation, people went to jail.

I don't how someone can vote from a graveyard, but it seems that that may have happened here in Lincoln County, WV. That's not the only problem either.

The politicians who were found to be distributing almost a thousand absentee ballots, presumably door-to-door, stated that it was a good "strategy", and that they were smart to do it, because it allowed them to win. There is speculation that the ballots were pre-marked when they were hand-delivered, and there is allegedly a recording, held by investigators, that shows that money was being offered in exchange for votes.

My grandfather, who passed away before I met him, was known to brag about working for the local polls each election. According to people who knew him, his job was to hand out bottles of liquor and 20-dollar bills, trading them for votes, just before people entered the voters booths.

My county has a pretty bad reputation, with good reason. Unfortunately, it's looking like more people will be heading to jail this time around too.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010 6:00 PM

This is great news. Glad to see the park might come back after years of trying. i think a quarter of a cent increase is nothing compared to the benefits. My home town makes bigger tax increases for ridiculous things that do little to nothing for the town.

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Friday, May 28, 2010 1:23 AM

First of all, I'm talking about local government. I've worked for local municipalities and school districts. I've campaigned for local issues. Nowhere can you have greater impact than in local government if you get involved.

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Monday, May 31, 2010 12:33 PM

This is preaching to the choir here. On a coaster site, of course just about everyone is going to think raising the local sales tax to fund an amusement park is a great idea. But not everybody thinks that way. Don't be surprised to find that there are people who don't think they should be taxed so one family can run an amusement park.

Unless there are some other details not mentioned in the article, it still amounts to the entire population being taxed so one local business can be subsidized, and one set of owners can make profit. Whether people "voluntarily" agree to be taxed or not. I don't understand why they can't purchase and develop a piece of property for themselves-- they could probably do it cheaper and with less red tape than the county anyway. Go to the banks and get loans. Isn't that the way most businesses do it-- or at least used to do it before we turned the government into a great big magician's hat that you could reach in and pull anything you wanted out of it?

Take the name of a business or a business type you really don't like and insert it in the headline, and see whether you agree with that or not.
"County seeks raise in sales tax to buy land for big box store."

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Monday, May 31, 2010 1:54 PM

But it's so short-sighted to see it as "I'm getting taxed more." I mean, you have to spend $10,000 on taxable goods before it even adds up to $25. I doubt I've ever spent that much in-county in a year. What you get for it is a business relocating to your area with jobs and tax revenue that dwarfs what you paid up front.

And comparing it to a big box store isn't fair. Those companies have nearly limitless capital to expand, this business does not. They are different, which in my mind is only further justification for helping them out. Your local government gets far more in the long run.

Last edited by Jeff, Monday, May 31, 2010 1:55 PM
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Monday, May 31, 2010 4:08 PM

I wish my local government would raise taxes and give it to me so I could open my own amusement park, called "Travisland"!

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Monday, May 31, 2010 4:26 PM

LostKause said:
I wish my local government would raise taxes and give it to me so I could open my own amusement park, called "Travisland"!

Bingo, Subsidize one and they all got their hand out

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Monday, May 31, 2010 11:10 PM

Jeff said:
But it's so short-sighted to see it as "I'm getting taxed more." I mean, you have to spend $10,000 on taxable goods before it even adds up to $25. I doubt I've ever spent that much in-county in a year. What you get for it is a business relocating to your area with jobs and tax revenue that dwarfs what you paid up front.

And comparing it to a big box store isn't fair. Those companies have nearly limitless capital to expand, this business does not. They are different, which in my mind is only further justification for helping them out. Your local government gets far more in the long run.

My point was, we all love amusement parks here, so it's easy to be in favor of a measure like that. What if they wanted to raise taxes to subsidize a business we didn't care that much about? Like a motocross track. Or a veterinary clinic. Or an art gallery, Or a restaurant, RV campground, nursing home, or auto body shop. Places like these need large amounts of startup and working capital. Should sales taxes be raised to help these folks out too? Would we be so gung-ho if our taxes were raised because somebody in our county wanted to open a business? After all, don't they provide jobs and tax revenues just like an amusement park does?

According to wikipedia, Wagoner County had 21,010 households in the 2000 census, and the median household income was around $41,000. I don't think it's a stretch to say that a household could spend $8-10K each year on "stuff" that's taxable. While that may come down to "only" 20 or 25 dollars per household per year, it also adds up to somewhere between $420,000 and $525,000 per year benefiting one business. And that's only from the residents. It doesn't count the additional taxes paid by all the other businesses in the county, who probably purchase more items that are taxable than households, and won't get subsidized.

Again, it's not the idea that the amount an individual is being taxed is excessive. You're right that it probably will hardly be noticeable. It's when all those nickels and dimes are combined to benefit only one business that I have a problem with it.

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010 1:15 PM

I'll say it again... it doesn't benefit "one business." If you're only willing to look at one side of it, well, you aren't seeing the other side. First off, it's not subsidizing a business, it's subsidizing the county (and isn't that what all taxes do?). This tax was intended to generate cash so the county could buy land, which it would in turn lease out to Bell's. Bell's isn't getting a free ride here, and I'm not sure why it's being painted as such.

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010 1:33 PM

Like a motocross track. Or a veterinary clinic. Or an art gallery, Or a restaurant, RV campground, nursing home, or auto body shop.

I'm looking at all of those things as objectivly as I would this, and I would have NO problems with the (very) slight tax increase to help fund any of those. More jobs, economic boost to the county, and in all cases, it's something that benefits EVERYONE.

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010 2:18 PM

What happens if the park fails?

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:00 PM

I stand corrected, the tax will benefit one landowner who will sell the land to the county for several times more than what it was worth three months ago.

What will happen if the county decides the break the lease so they can put some other business on the site that they could charge more money? And don't even say that would never happen.

Again, nobody has answered the question-- why can't the Bells buy and develop their own piece of property like 98% of parks in the country? This might damage Wagoner County's standing as one of the top 100 most conservative friendly counties in the US.

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:24 PM

That's a whole lot of speculation, don't you think? You're assuming the county would overpay, and that the county would break a contract putting them at risk for lawsuits. I will say it would never happen, because small local government doesn't like to take those kinds of risk. I know, I've been there.

I doubt the Bell family has the capital to buy the land. Again, these kinds of deals are used to bring business and a larger tax base to locales all of the time, and it works. You can be pessimistic all you want and say that the city/county/town/library district will just look for more ways to tax, and I think that's a cop out because at the end of the day, the voters decide. Heck, the last city I worked in, which offered tax abatements to countless businesses and subsidized industrial parks, had income tax under 1% at the time. That was virtually unheard of back then.

I don't claim to have the answers about how the feds or states should spend money, but if people are unwilling to invest in their own backyard, and get involved, then they deserve the crappy local economy they get.

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