Posted Thursday, December 23, 2004 9:32 AM | Contributed by Jeff
Kennywood's top executive told elected officials in West Mifflin last night to stop balancing the borough's annual budget with taxes that target the amusement park. About $1.4 million of the proposed $11.7 million budget for 2005 comes from Kennywood, Pete McAneny, president of Kennywood Entertainment, said in a public hearing before the borough council. He says that income tax hurts seasonal teen workers and amusement tax puts a burden on the park in the face of increasing competition from Geauga Lake.
I disagree with West Mifflin's decision. This is a very historic and well-known park throughout the world. It has been around for more than 100 years, and the community is trying to make it hard to stay.
It's always bugged me that the sign welcoming people to West Mifflin doesn't say "home of Kennywood", it says "home of Whitaker Tire" or something like that. Now I realize that company probably paid to have that there, but come on, acknowledge their help a little! And it's not like a situation with Aurora where traffic goes through the middle of West Mifflin to get to the park. Kennywood Blvd. is basically the border of West Mifflin and most of the traffic comes through Homestead the Waterfront or Rankin anyway, none of which are (publically) complaining about the park's effects on them. As was said, biting the hand that feeds.
Despite what others have said, I think Kennywood's in trouble, and I don't even know if the new expressway which may or may not ever happen will solve the problems. Kennywood's also feeling the effects of the City of Pittsburgh being bankrupt, with the increased occupation tax. Maybe the state bailouts could apply to the park too?
I'm not sure I would read into it quite that much. If you can make an additional half-million a year, you do what you have to in order to make it happen. It doesn't mean the park is doomed without it. The Sandusky parking tax didn't harm Cedar Point, but obviously showing up and complaining about it had serious impact.
Well no, I don't think the tax alone will "kill" them, I was sort of generalizing there, I think this is just one piece of the puzzle that's not lookin' too hot for Kennywood. I think the fact that GL has the backing of the cash cow on Lake Erie is going to be a major obstacle for Kennywood to overcome.
The only impact the tax will have on Kennywood Entertainment is how much less money they can dump into Lake Compounce. What has Kennywood really done to improve the park lately? A re-themed Old Mill and a used Top Spin from Lake Compounce. With all the competition of other parks, will Kennywood ever offer a season pass?
What has Kennywood really done to improve the park lately?
Hmmm... let's see...
Entirely new entrance and ticketing facilities. Rethemed Old Mill. New infrastructure for entire Old Mill. New picture facilities at Old Mill, Turnpike, Jammer, and entrance. Added Fright Nights, then added more stuff to Fright Nights. New restrooms in groves and near Thunderbolt. New games building across from Penny Arcade. PLC system and magnetic brakes on Jack Rabbit. New maintenance facility. New refreshment stands by the Racer and Pirate. Rebuilt Log Jammer structure and trough from the ground up. New PLC system for Log Jammer. Pounce Bounce. Rebuilt some coaches on the train. Retracked Auto Race. Took Merry Go Round down to the ground to totally refurbish it. Installed drives, motors, and PLC on Kangaroo. New sound system at the Musik Express. New sweeps at Musik Express. New center hub at Musik Express. Oh, hell, let's just say we rebuilt the Musik Express. Rethemed Pirate area. Took Pirate down and refurbished/overhauled. Volcano Valley. Used Top Spin from Lake Compounce (boo hoo.) Redid all Exterminator scenes. Rebuilt Potato Patch. New braking system on Turtle. PLC system on Thunderbolt. Retracked all wooden coasters. New surveillance systems in games and refreshment stands. Redid infrastructure of Cafeteria. Started selling gyros.
Nope, come to think of it, we haven't really done anything to improve the park lately. I'm ashamed to collect a paycheck some times.
Wow, I'm glad Kennywood is the only park that tears down their rides and rebuilds through the winter months. I guess parks like Cedar Point just flips the main breaker off in the fall and uses all their maintenance money for new projects. As for the new bathrooms and refreshment stands, how about removing some more classic rides and install more food stands, so people can pay $29.00 to go and eat. What was the last new ride installed? Was it the Aero 360?
Uh, exactly what classic ride removal are you talking about? Have you even been to the park in the last few years? Moreso, have you seen the clientel at the park? That's basically what they do is pay $29.00 to go eat. Sure there are a few rides, but ask any Pittsburgher and the best parts of Kennywood will include at least 1 if not 2 things about food.
Wow, you guys basically rebuilt the Log Jammer structure, Musik Express and Potato Patch? Not to mention retracked the wooden coasters (without fanfare I might add, a la GL)? Heh, rock on! Maybe the tax hit will require the removal of that damn laughing lady at the train station. Nothing else in this world makes me want to go Postal more than that b***h. Sometimes I wish I could just beat that thing with a bat until it's in pieces too small to recognize!
I'm reading a lot into that, and it's saying that I'm going to have to work an entire day just to pay off their proposed $52 occupation tax or whatever it is. Good to know that the city is putting a good part of the weight of their budget problems on kids (such as myself) trying to pay their way through college or high school by working 5 months at nearly minimum wage. God, that is wrong in so many ways.
Oh quit your *****in'. Honestly, if you fall and break your leg, who pays the paramedics to come get you? If someone robs you in Kennywood's parking lot, who comes to take the report? They're all people paid out of the city of Pittsburgh budget. $10 per person per year does not even come close to paying probably one tenth of the emergency services personnel that help you and all the other people working downtown, paying their local taxes to a local municipality that doesn't have to help out financially or physically when something happens to you downtown. $42 will not break your bank. If it does, smoke a few less cigarettes, drink a few less beers, avoid Wendy's for a couple of weeks, there's millions of ways to recover a whole $42. That's absolutely ridiculous to complain about that. It should be a couple of hundred per year so the Port Authority can get bailed out from all the freeloaders too.
The City if Pittsburgh has nothing to do with Kennywood. Its all on West Mifflin. Kennywood has been fighting against the local municipality and school taxes for years now. They have spoken in Harrisburg, with Conneaut Lake, Waldameer, Knoebels, and Hersheypark all backing them up.
Look at all the bull**** Conneaut Lake and Dorney, along with Geauga Lake go through because they straddle 2 municipalities. What does the West Mifflin school district provide them? What does West Mifflin provide them? Kennywood Blvd. is a state road, KP pays its sewer and water bills, and pre-season negotiates its electric bill.
If you were an owner, you would want that money back, whether it is $20,000 or $20,000 million dollars. KP did not have the luxury like Disney in Florida to create their own little government to avoid this.
Furthermore, it's ridiculous and in my opinion immoral that communities can shift a huge percentage of their tax burden to people that don't live there and have minimum impact on services. It's a chronic problem here in Ohio because you get taxed by the municipality you work in, then have to turn around and pay the one you live in. You get hit twice.
Charging some kid $52 a year that makes $6 an hour for the privilege of bolstering your community's economy is a lot like kicking him in the nuts and defecating on him while he's down.
Impulsive, when you're looking at book payments of nearly $1,000 per year, car loans, car insurance, gas, and everything else that comes up during the course of the year, paying $52 to the borough that I don't even live in seems like an absolute waste of my money (even more so when employment lasts from mid-May to October). The $10/year occupation tax that is currently in effect should more than pay for emergency services should one of the situations that you mentioned occur. The "emergency municipal services tax" is exactly as it says--they're forcing their finance problems on a employee base that consists of a huge number of workers who don't even live near West Mifflin. I could work at some crappy fast food joint next door and pay $10 per year, so why should I suddenly have to give up $42 more just to work at the park that I love?
Oh, and just for the record, I don't drink, don't smoke, and eat at fast food restaurants approximately once per month.
Well I wasn't sayin' you did those things, those were general ideas (and ones that apply to most people). Hey, I was in your exact situation just a couple of years ago, and I realize that it's annoying to lose money that you see no benefit from when you're barely making enough to get by. But that $10 tax hasn't moved in years and it really is high time that it gets an update for inflation, etc.
Who do you want them to force their tax burden on? They already don't tax businesses and they can't them to come downtown, they don't have many people living downtown like Chicago or New York, where are they supposed to get the money from? I won't deny that they're a bunch of idiots down there and have spent a lot of frivilous money that didn't need spent, but you choices are $42 a year extra, or things will simply fall apart. I think that $42 so that you still have a city to work in is worth it. Granted, I work in the 'burbs now, but if I worked downtown, as I said, I'd pay double or triple that much over the course of a year to pay for the services I use. Come on, how many days do you work? More than $42, so that's way less than a dollar a day off your pay, it's really not that much money.
But Jeff, I don't think in Pittsburgh's situation there is a minimum impact on services. No one, and I mean no one lives in downtown Pittsburgh. There's really no one there to provide those services too if the businesses don't exist. Most everyone who works downtown in the office towers lives in the suburbs and they're basically just freeloading on city services while their local municipality gets more money to do less work for those people than downtown gets.