Cedar Fair negotiating with Aurora over Geauga Lake taxes

Posted Tuesday, June 8, 2004 1:59 PM | Contributed by supermandl

Aurora, Ohio could lose $500,000 a year if the new owners of Geauga Lake don't continue a tax arrangement the city had with the previous owners of the amusement park. Aurora Mayor Lynn McGill said the city had a contract with the previous owners - when the park was known as Six Flags - that called for the city to receive admission tax and income tax from the park.

Read more from The Plain Dealer.

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Tuesday, June 8, 2004 2:16 PM
It seems strange that this is described as an arrangement between Aurora and the park. Usually this kind of thing is an agreement between the governmental jurisdications involved.

Note: Read the aritcle carefully. I think this is about which government gets the taxes, not about how much tax Cedar Fair pays.
*** This post was edited by Jim Fisher 6/8/2004 2:17:54 PM ***

Tuesday, June 8, 2004 2:18 PM
That's business. You can't blame the park for wanting to reduce taxing on the side of the park that is mothballed.
Tuesday, June 8, 2004 2:39 PM
Right, Jim, but Cedar Fair is saying, "Hey only a tiny operating portion of our park is in Aurora...why should you get to tax half of our earnings?"

From the article, "Aurora last year doubled its income tax".

So it is about both who gets it and how much they get...

Tuesday, June 8, 2004 2:50 PM
I see Aurora's side for wanting a piece of the pie. An awful lot of traffic goes through the Aurora roads to get to Geauga Lake. If a piece of the park were in my backyard I would be looking for some bling.
Tuesday, June 8, 2004 2:56 PM
What kind of leverage does Aurora have? If Cedar Fair does not agree to pay the tax, what would the consequences be?

I don't know the geography of the park and how it lines up with municipalities very well, but would venture a guess and say the tax will be negotiated down significantly.

Tuesday, June 8, 2004 3:57 PM
/\ I suppose they could just not approve of any future major attractions that Cedar Fair may plan for Geagua Lake. That's leverage, I think.
Tuesday, June 8, 2004 5:06 PM
Wouldn't all the traffic through Aurora lead to more patronage of Aurora businesses and thus lead to more revenue?
Tuesday, June 8, 2004 5:10 PM
I would presume the alternate to an agreement would be a court fight that would be lengthy and expensive for both parties.
Tuesday, June 8, 2004 7:08 PM
Ahhh, the joys of owning a business that resides in 2 communities.

Tuesday, June 8, 2004 7:37 PM
How does Carowinds do it? Aren't they in 2 states?
Tuesday, June 8, 2004 11:29 PM
The part of the park that actually resides in Aurora is a sliver of the water park and maybe one of the old marine stadiums, which of course is not in use. The actual road surface area that resides in Aurora that might be used to get to the park from east and south rural areas is minimal. I'd say that if they're not using the SeaWorld lot, 75%+ of the traffic never sets a tire in Aurora.

If you think Cedar Fair wouldn't be willing to go to court over what they perceive as tax gouging, see the repealed Sandusky parking tax.

Wednesday, June 9, 2004 12:11 AM
Yeah Caro is in two states, however I believe SC has the most influence politically over the park. Not completely sure though...
Wednesday, June 9, 2004 2:24 AM
I was always led to believe that Aurora was the waterpark and ride side, and the former Wildlife Side/SeaWorld of Ohio was in Bainbridge Township, where the disagreement over building coasters at Sea World was the ultimate reason Sea World sold to Six Flags
Wednesday, June 9, 2004 8:15 AM
I believe the ultimate reason Sea World sold is that they knew the park was going under and got out while they could still make a profit on a failing park ... but that's neither here nor there.

So what exactly is Aurora then? I come from exit 193 off the Turnpike, come through that small town on 44 and make a left at some point which takes me right to the park. I was under the impression that the Wendy's and CVS (if you know my route) nearby were all in Aurora, so therefore, at least some traffic does come through Aurora (although I could easily be wrong on the location of Aurora). All the signs now though direct you to the next exit of the Turnpike, when you're coming from PA, so that traffic probably doesn't cover Aurora as much as the route I take.

Wednesday, June 9, 2004 9:50 AM

You are right. I take the same route (44 north through Mantua [pronounced man-ah-way], then west on 82, north on 43), and you hit Aurora just before the old railroad crossing.

Also, if you're coming in from 14 (which you probably do if you're coming off 80) you use Aurora roads to get to the park. In fact, the majority of 43 that you travel is Aurora property.

However, in the park's defense, very little of the park (in use) is on Aurora property.

Wednesday, June 9, 2004 8:33 PM
I think we miss the bigger issue. Most businesses I know of want to be on a highly traveled road or in a highly traveled area. This is common sense. Aurora businesses and tax structure clearly benefits from having an amusement park in its back yard in terms of tax revenues received. I find it hard to believe that high traffic in the area could EVER be considered bad for Aurora. I’m sure there are sound arguments for traffic problems, etc. However, there is not a sound financial argument to be made.

Maybe there are logistical road upkeep and security concerns that Aurora must endure as a result of the park patronage. I still have a hard time believing that these excess costs outweigh the financial windfall that thousands of people passing tax-collecting businesses export into the Aurora coffers. I’m sure that these tax benefits more than pay for the costs directly associated with covering the extra burdens a park may impose on a surrounding community.

Whether there is enough money to pay for a surrounding communities extra desires (new schools, new fire departments, etc..) that are above and beyond what the said community could expect to receive should the park not be there is another issue. I would guess Cedar Fair is not real interested in being a willing partner in a money shake-down at their expense to add benefits to a community that are above and beyond the benefits they receive from the community in return.

It seems that both parties benefit from each other within reason. I question how reasonable the current tax structure is for the park!

Saturday, June 12, 2004 11:10 PM
Although most of SeaWorld is not open to the public I would think that Cedar Fair still needs to pay a property tax correct? Has anyone said what the plans are for that site (other than Geauga Lake not operating it at this time?) I have heard rumors that possibly that area could be sold off to build condos. That however seems far fetched, who would want to live that close? If SeaWorld and Six Flags could not get approval to build taller rides and they were paying the city, not paying would not be the best way to get on the city's good side to expand the park in the future. Can anyone clear up where the Aurora/Bainbridge border is? I was always under the assumption that all of SeaWorld was in Aurora and from the shores of the Ski Stadium and all of Geauga Lake was in Bainbridge.

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