Kennywood sues West Mifflin over amusement tax

Posted Monday, October 17, 2005 4:47 PM | Contributed by Jeff

Kennywood Entertainment claims in a lawsuit that West Mifflin Borough has unfairly imposed an amusement tax on the park while making no effort to collect the tax from other businesses in the borough.

Read more from The Post-Gazette.

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Monday, October 17, 2005 5:37 PM
…any lawyers out there? Does KW have a leg to stand on? I find it strange that the schools would rely on an amusement tax for funding (partial?). Property taxes seem a little fairer, or even sales tax, but an obscure amusement tax…?

Whether legal or not, I’m of the opinion that KW is getting screwed based upon what I’ve read! I hope they pull it out in court. I would think the equal protection clause might hold hope!

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Monday, October 17, 2005 6:13 PM
This seems to be a Pennsylvainia thing. Having grown up there I've always heard of communities (and school districts) that had entertainment venues within their boundries institute amusement taxes. I seem to recall not to long ago that Dick Knobel had a go round with some of the districts that were taxing him.
Were West Mifflin messed up was the unequal enforcement of the tax law. At the very least it seems that the court would demand equal enforcement, or the repeal of the law. As far as a refund, the money is gone.
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Monday, October 17, 2005 7:30 PM
I think the ones who really need to worry in this case are those that "run" West Mifflin. Anyone from the area can attest, that for an area that has a ridiculous amount of additional tax revenue from the park, the place is an absolute public nightmare. Traffic lights don't work right, roads are in horrid shape, depressed neighborhoods abound, the place basically doesn't look like it's really been cared for since the early 80s.

So, that money's GOTTA be going somewhere, they're not just storing it up, so if I were a councilperson in West Mifflin, I'd be shakin' in my boots about how deep of an investigation is gonna go down for this one ...

I'll say it again, Kennywood, Pennsylvania seems like the most logical solution!

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Monday, October 17, 2005 8:28 PM
I don't think the issue is "OMG, you're taxing us" it's "OMG, you're taxing ONLY us." Much like the Sandusky parking tax issue.
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Monday, October 17, 2005 10:58 PM
Such a tax wouldn't be used to support schools, JRS, more like municipal "services."

Dutchman, I agree about the PA thing. If there's a way to tax it, Pennsylvania will find it. Too bad they don't pursue job creation and economic development with the same fervor. Oh wait, the PA governments, taxation IS economic development.

From what I recall, the Knoebels issue was that the local school district wanted to assess every permanent structure (including rides) as separate real estate entities. That may be why so many attractions there maintain the portable look.

I was only at Kennywood and West Mifflin once, so let me ask something... what other businesses are there to collect an amusement tax from?

This suit will be interesting, Impulsive. Because it will require the borough to open their books and show how much tax was actually collected and how much should have been collected. And a lot of West Mifflin residents who have probably been told over the years that the borough can't afford this or that will realize how much money they've actually collected. I'll bet the West Mifflin Borough Hall is quite a Taj Mahal, and borough employees have some really cushy contracts.

Hope Kennywood kicks their asses good on this one. First, just on the prinicpal, second to serve notice to every other municipality in the state playing the same dirty game. *** This post was edited by RatherGoodBear 10/17/2005 10:59:43 PM ***
*** This post was edited by RatherGoodBear 10/17/2005 11:00:32 PM ***

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005 10:00 AM
In about 1989, the amusement tax was capped at $1 per ride-all-day ticket and 10 percent of general admission tickets. The tax was shared by borough and school district.

Unless they repealed the school district portion later (the article does not say), it would appear the schools have their hands in the cookie jar also. I can't help but think that at some point the children will be used as a defense (or at least PR) of the unilateral taxation. Something along the line of KW does not want to do its fair share to educate the youth...

If West Mifflin has crooked government, you can be sure they will reflect illumination toward the school district. School districts are immune from oversight when it comes to effecient tax money expenditures. If West Mifflin schools are anything like the districts I've worked in, you can be sure there are some wasteful spending habits going on behind the scenes while the school board publicly cries about lack of funding for teachers, books, etc....This is how the game is played!

Anyhow, you can be sure that there are a lot of people who see KW as Big Business that deserves to have it stuck to em... U.S. government 101...

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005 11:02 AM
Here's my beef: These days, cities are screaming to get businesses to move into their area. They're given tax abatements out the waazoo to entice them. But the mainstay companies, like Kennywood, get the shaft. It's like, sorry old man, you're not new enough to help and you are already here.
Sue 'em KW! Make them HURT!
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Tuesday, October 18, 2005 4:29 PM
Acoustic Viscosity's avatar It's kind of like how companies offer new customers incentives like special new customer discounts and and introductory rates, but existing customers don't get jack for their loyalty. I know this isn't true for all companies, but it seems to be the norm.
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Tuesday, October 18, 2005 5:55 PM
The best part is when they give tax breaks to a company to come in and directly compete against existing businesses, who happen to pay their share of taxes, in the same locality. The politicians will brag about the "new" jobs they created, but you'll never hear about all the little businesses that close down and the jobs lost because they can't compete with the new favorite sons.
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Wednesday, October 19, 2005 9:29 AM
In PA, a bowling alley, movie theater, arcade, etc. are generally considered an amusement venue, as is any place that has a live act.
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Wednesday, October 19, 2005 9:31 AM
RAthergoodbear: Sounds like WalMart and just about every place they put in a new store.
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Thursday, October 20, 2005 6:40 PM
West Mifflin already has a huge tax base unlike other towns in the valley. On the other side of WM is Century 3 and all the surrounding businessess. Not only is this amusement tax on Kennywood unfair, but so is the occupation tax that has recently been raised to $52. It's ashame that seasonal minimum wage workers have to pay this tax. Then again, I guess it's worth giving your hard earned money away. After all you paying for the priviledge of being able to work in such a lovely place.
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Thursday, October 20, 2005 7:34 PM
I still say that it should be $1/week, *NOT* $52. I know for year-round employment that it works out to be the same, but it'd be less demanding of someone in high school trying to make some money for stuff in the summer at (or below) minimum wage.
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Sunday, October 23, 2005 11:18 PM
Yeah, taking the OPT out of the first paycheck is a killer. Luckily, my town hasn't raised that yet. 10 bucks is bad enough. Of course, we can thank the city of Pittsburgh for that dirty little trick.
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