Kings Island and Mason go to war over admission and parking taxes

Posted Monday, November 23, 2009 12:56 PM | Contributed by Jeff

Kings Island is waging a public relations war against plans to institute an admissions and parking tax in Mason. The tall park sign seen from Interstate 71 warns drivers that "Mason wants to tax YOU! Tell them NO!" E-mail blasts and the Web site for the amusement giant urge people to tell council members not to back admissions fees.

Read more from The Cincinnati Enquirer.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009 10:42 AM

tigellinus said:
^But I thought that was the deal for KI being annexed from Deerfield Twp to Mason...no admissions taxes!!

I rarely thought I'd say this...but I agree with Chuck!! You can't have a city acting like Carmel, Ind or San Marino, Cali if you're extorting local businesses in the process!!

This city has spent more in the past years than some small states. Thousand dollar trees every 20ft along the sides, middle and dividers of its roads. All new admin, schools, jails, courthouses. Parks, Decorative landscaping everywhere.

Like I said, I can see spending money you have but with the tax losses in property values, employment losses ect. They should stop or maintain what they have. They still keep spending like banshees. NO!

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009 10:42 AM

The economy improving in a few months? It's not gonna happen, sad to say. Even though the stock market is improving, nobody's hiring.

I think this will be a "Jobless Recovery."

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009 10:45 AM

That is true Walt..and many of them do. Disney last week just announced sweeping price hikes not on admission but on wheelchairs, strollers, lockers, etc. And, we are talking $2 and up hikes.

It is an interesting argument for the park to take up. They are trying to get public sentiment by saying this is a tax on the residents. But, correct me if I'm wrong: Aren't they charging $3 for a bottle of water? What their REAL concern is that the typical person will swallow an admission tax and then spend less money in the park.

I don't think that is true at all. Once I pay for tickets (or parking tolls) I don't think about those things again once in the park. I doubt most people do. I'm upset about it as I'm turning over my $14 (or whatever it is) at the toll booth but then I get on the monorail, see Space Mountain, and I forget where I parked the car let alone how much I paid to get into the lot.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009 11:11 AM

The government isn't as concerned about price sensitivity and the demand curve as the private sector.

I suspect that Disney is raising prices on those items because they believe that they can as demand for those items is largely inelastic. For a couple dollars more per day, are you going to bring the wheelchair/stroller from home that you didn't want to be bothered with or lug around whatever you were putting in the locker?

And I agree that for most people, the admission/parking tax will not have a significant impact on what they spend in the park. But there will be some people who will either skip going to the park (or will go less often) or who will spend less in the park based on the tax. In the current environment, I would expect parks to fight for whatever revenue they can at the margins particularly when they are not otherwise looking at discounts to get it.

And I also agree that the economy isn't going to get better in a few months. We had an economy built on large amounts of unsustainable spending that isn't coming back any time soon. But one thing politicians do better than anyone else is kicking today's problems down the road.

Last edited by GoBucks89, Tuesday, November 24, 2009 11:19 AM
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Tuesday, November 24, 2009 11:54 AM

GoBucks89 said:
Since when does the concept of right/wrong have anything to do with politics?

Since when does the current state of anything dictate its future state?

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009 12:20 PM

Well, to be fair Jeff...in politics that is a pretty safe bet.

I don't think people will skip going to the park (or go less) because of an admissions tax or a parking tax. If I were Cedar Fair I would be more concerned about value of a day at the park once INSIDE rather than worrying about a tax that might be initiated. I know that isn't reality but it is amazing how much energy Dick and the gang can spend on fighting taxes, fighting casinos (or backing them so long as they get a piece of the action) figting against the 49ers, etc.

Take some of that energy and focus on what you have complete control over for crying out loud. Imagine what could be if they actually did that.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009 12:49 PM

I see the park as easily getting around the parking tax by just including a couple bucks addmission in the daily price and making Parking free. (HW style) And actually make more because far more guest enter the actual park than actual cars parking in the lot.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009 12:56 PM

wahoo skipper said:
I don't think people will skip going to the park (or go less) because of an admissions tax or a parking tax.

Exactly. I don't think the tax in and of itself is a problem.

It's why Mason needs the money/what they're going to do with it that makes it a yay or nay in my eyes (as a non-resident of the community with only a passing interest in the situation :) ). And, interestingly, that doesn't seem to be part of the discussion beyond this one line in that article:

"...the additional revenue will help cover improvement costs for many of the roads that park visitors use."

Is that all it will do?

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009 1:12 PM

The money is fungible. They can say it will be used for roads or other things with some connection to the park (it helps them sell/justify the tax). Then they can take whatever money they would have spent on roads and those other things and spend it on things totally unrelated to the park.

And I think the taxes would have some impact on attendance. Why do parks offer discount tickets if a few bucks here and there don't matter to at least a significant number of folks?

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009 1:23 PM

I believe it's absurd that any park raises prices right when there is a recission that will last for many years to come. The states that due will see the tourism dollar go somewhere else since they will be taxing the very industry that is bringing more tax dollars in than ever.

The cities see a cash cow in the amusement park industry and will milk it for all its worth. When prices go up then you will see the people from other states stay closer to home than venture in high tax rackets.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009 1:25 PM

GoBucks89 said:
The money is fungible. They can say it will be used for roads or other things with some connection to the park (it helps them sell/justify the tax). Then they can take whatever money they would have spent on roads and those other things and spend it on things totally unrelated to the park.

Then presumably the voters will respond accordingly. To me it's not the tax that's the issue, it's what gets done with the tax money.

Why do parks offer discount tickets if a few bucks here and there don't matter to at least a significant number of folks?

I believe there's a bit of psychology involved.

I'd be willing to bet you sell more of product X if you say it's a $50 product on sale for $40 than if you sell it as a $40 product.

That seems to be the way most parks run the gate. It's pretty much accepted that almost no one pays "list" price for park tickets.

On top of that consider the amount of the hike compared to the usual amount of discounts offered. Would a 3% discount really matter? "Yay! I got my $50 ticket for $48.50! I'd have never come if that offer didn't exist!"

Park discounts most certainly drive business, but they're much greater than 3%. It's kind of apples and oranges. (typical park discounts vs a 3% increase)

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Tuesday, November 24, 2009 1:40 PM
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Tuesday, November 24, 2009 1:39 PM

wahoo skipper said:
Well, to be fair Jeff...in politics that is a pretty safe bet.

That's acceptance, and that's why things don't change. I just can't subscribe to that belief.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009 1:52 PM

I don't want to go to political but look at what our current President had in mind: change. And, to be fair, I was (and am still trying to be) hopeful that certain changes come. But, it doesn't seem that his engaging, populist personality is able to overcome "the system". I don't "accept it" but I've already lost all my hair so I can't get too excited that change is coming anytime soon.

I think Mason could easily give some statistics as to how much police and fire response is as a direct and indirect result of the Kings Island Operating season. They could also pretty easily do some traffic studies to show seasonal impact on roadways.

And then, they SHOULD consider going the Kissimmee/St Cloud approach to reinvesting some of what they make on those taxes in a concentrated marketing effort to bring more folks to the community. The problem with most local government today is that they aren't great at marketing what they do well and justifying what is often very justifiable uses of money.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009 3:19 PM

LG -- I already indicated that I agreed that for most people, the taxes won't make a difference in terms of how often they go to KI or how much they spend while they are there. But there are some folks (particularly families who pay multiples of any increase) for whom it will matter. $10 doesn't matter for most people but it does for some. And with the unemployment rates in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana I suspect it matters to more people now than it did 2 years ago. And yes, as the delta increases, more people will be impacted. But that doesn't make it an apples to oranges comparisson.

As for right/wrong on politics, there are two concepts. One is the corruption/power/self interest problem. The other is the fact that many issues in politics (like much of life) do not involve right/wrong, black/white or yes/no issues. As already noted, there isn't much to hope that my grandchildren (my kids are currently in middle school) will see change with respect to the first concept in their lifetime. There is way too much power/money involved in making sure that change never happens and the vast majority of the electorate on all levels has shown no real interest in actually making anything change. As for the second concept, what is the clearly right approach to the KI tax issue and why?

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009 4:16 PM

People who resist change get crushed. It has always been that way, and change is the only thing that doesn't change. That's why we aren't walking around without shoes.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009 4:35 PM

I just donated a couple of pairs of shoes to a charity fighting homelessness.

Do things change...or do our perspectives of things change?

Politics might be the least likely to change. We have had two parties for a long time now. Perot nearly broke through and maybe there is a groundswell from a centrist independent that will take hold soon...but...I'm not going to put money on that.

Last edited by wahoo skipper, Tuesday, November 24, 2009 4:47 PM
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Tuesday, November 24, 2009 4:51 PM

If a homeless person now has shoes, then yes, things changed.

And relative to history, we have not had a two-party system for very long. In fact, we haven't had anything for very long. Regardless of the general flag waving that people engage in, the United States is still very much an experiment in progress.

But we've lasted as long as we have because of our ability to change. It's slow and incremental, but it does occur. Am I just that much more of an optimist than most people?

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009 4:58 PM

Maybe it is the move to the Northwest that makes you optimistic.

In reality, I agree with you that things change. Unfortunately, they change too slowly for many people. We pass hate crime legislation after a rash of tragic deaths. We drag our feet on healthcare while people go without medicine. If government moved with 1% of the speed of technology just imagine what would be possible.

Instead we get stuck on Obama's birth certificate or Bush's inability to pronounce "nuclear".

In politics the problem is that the status quo spells $$$.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009 6:48 PM

I see your point, but honestly this is a kind of optimism I retained all summer, long before the new gig. When it comes to politics, I think a lot of the problem is that everyone both expects government to fix everything and not do anything at the same time.

But anyway, it's not about my optimism, it's about the fact that people are at a breaking point. Government at all levels often fails to successfully demonstrate a value proposition. I'm not fundamentally against taxes or spending, I just want to see that we get value for it. The Mason issue fails in this respect: It does not give any just cause beyond "we need more money."

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009 6:56 PM

You know Jeff, I think you hit the nail on the head. People want to know what they're getting for their money.

I had a friend who worked for the local DPW. When it came town budget time, his boss made a detailed, itemized list, and what each item was needed for. He pubished it for the whole town to see, so that the taxpayers could see where every dollar in his department went last year, be it for a new dump truck, shop supplies, or sand & salt for the roads.

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