PA House OK's end to tax on Kennywood

Posted Friday, June 30, 2006 10:31 AM | Contributed by GregLeg

The state House has angered West Mifflin officials by approving a bill to permit Kennywood Park to stop paying $1.5 million a year in amusement tax revenue to the borough and school district. House Bill 1082 was approved Tuesday night by a vote of 153-39, with support from state Rep. Marc Gergely, D-White Oak, but opposition from Rep. Ken Ruffing, D-West Mifflin. Mr. Gergely, whose district includes the section of West Mifflin where the park sits, said it's unfair that Kennywood is the only West Mifflin venue that has to pay the amusement tax.

Read more from The Post-Gazette.

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Friday, June 30, 2006 10:51 AM
If the park was passing the tax along to guests, does that mean we will see a price drop next season? I am willing to bet we won't. :)
*** This post was edited by eightdotthree 6/30/2006 10:51:50 AM ***
Friday, June 30, 2006 10:53 AM
A couple of things stick out here.

The bill bars the amusement tax from being used at "a fixed site amusement park that has been designated a national historic landmark by the National Park Service.''

The special protection seems kind of strange. Historic or not, isn't Kennywood a for-profit business? I mean, if you're going to get rid of the tax, then just get rid of it. Why write in a loophole?

"Why is the state dealing with a local situation?'' Mr. Bednar said.

"The state should deal with statewide issues. If you don't want the amusement tax, then [the Legislature should] come up with comprehensive tax reform.''

I would tend to agree with that.

"The problem we have is that we are in competition with parks that don't have that tax,'' such as Geauga Lake and Cedar Point in Ohio.

That's not true. Cedar Point pays a 3 percent admission tax to Sandusky.

I'm not saying I'm for or against this, or any other "tourist tax." But this issue really isn't unique to Kennywood.

Friday, June 30, 2006 11:45 AM
"Howard Bednar, manager for the borough, which gets nearly $1 million a year in Kennywood amusement taxes, criticized the House for passing a bill that affects only one community in the entire state -- his."

I appears that turnabout is fair play, and Mr. Bednar does not enjoy the taste of his own medicine.

Friday, June 30, 2006 12:38 PM
^ Exactly. If West Mifflin was a shining jewel of public programs and the nicest community around, and Kennywood used all their services, this probably wouldn't be an issue. But, West Mifflin is no better off than most of suburban Pittsburgh, their roads are in horrible shape, and Kennywood, as stated in the article, provides most of their own public services. West Mifflin overstepped their boundaries, played with fire, and got burned.
Friday, June 30, 2006 12:53 PM
^ I disagree that West Mifflin got burned. To me it's more like "Kennywood STOPPED getting burned". Any tax that affects ONE business or individual should be viewed with the utmost of suspicion. Likewise, however, the rule that bars the amusement tax from being used at "a fixed site amusement park that has been designated a national historic landmark by the National Park Service." ALSO singles out KW so that another park *would* be taxable...

This is what is meant by "playing politics"! :(

Friday, June 30, 2006 2:18 PM
There are movie theaters and other entertaiment venues in West Mifflin.

Singling out Kennywood for taxation was BS in the first place. IMHO the Borough ought to be forced to pay back what Kennywood and its guest were forced to pay.

Tax em all or none at all. Thats all Im saying and I said the same thing when the City of Mason proposed a tax on Kings Island only.

Friday, June 30, 2006 9:31 PM
Maybe this could ultimately mean another coaster for KW. One GG coaster at $7 million using the new ravine and 5 years of tax savings would pay for it, not counting the extra attendance that would be generated.

IMO, the state should stop taxation on all of the parks. CLP and Bushkill need every bit of help that they can get and Knoebels needs to recover from the flood. Why should parkgoers or parks subsidize these small communities that just happen to be fortunate enough to have a park in them?*** This post was edited by Arthur Bahl 6/30/2006 9:42:09 PM ***

Friday, June 30, 2006 11:11 PM
Why would this result in the construction of anything? Enthusiasts are always so eager to spend the profits of the parks.
Saturday, July 1, 2006 10:42 AM
KW was planning to expand but it depended upon two conditions. One is the construction of the new highway. The other is the end to the tax. While the road is still in doubt, it appears that the tax will soon be gone. That might lead to partial expansion such as a new coaster, something that the park hasn't had in a while. .

IMO, however, the main changes need to be made at Kennycorp's other parks. Idlewild could use a new wooden coaster more than KW to braoden the appeal to families with older kids. Sandcastle needs some newer water attractions. Most important of all is LC. This park is underutilized relative to its size and could benefit from attractions that would broaden its appeal vs. SFNE and Rye Playland. LC, if expanded properly, could be promoted strongly in the Boston and New York areas and could experience tremendous growth in attendance.

Saturday, July 1, 2006 11:23 AM
OK, let me rephrase then. How will a new coaster increase the business at Kennywood?
Saturday, July 1, 2006 1:15 PM
Well, I might want to go again, for a start.... and if I would want to go for a new coaster, that's more business for them. Pretty simple, really.

But you are probably right in that a tax isn't preventing them from doing any expansion with the park. If that were the case, one would have to question their financial footing.

Saturday, July 1, 2006 2:21 PM
The park WILL expand if the highway is built and the first phase will likely take place as soon as the commitment to build the road is firm. Right now the highway project is in doubt but even with the road problems, another major attraction could boost attendance although by a smaller amount than would occur if the road assess was better.. Remember that Steel Phantom had a lasting effect on the park's popularity and attendance.

With the tax removed, the park can consider building something major before the highway plans are finalized. They have to remember that GLs attendance is still in the tank for now but in several years that park could be a formidable competitor again. Also, Waldameer will be getting a big new coaster soon and will probably start advertising in the Pittsburgh area when this happens.

Wednesday, July 5, 2006 12:22 AM
I say good for KW. It's about time some of these local officials across the state were told to remove their fangs from the citizens and businesses in their jurisdictions. Between local municipalities and school boards, they act like lords of the manor with a bottomless pit of money they can reach into anytime they need to advance their own little agendas.

They still haven't learned that it's their greed and ineptitude that has resulted in PA being one of the biggest job losing states over the past 30 years, and one of the lowest for creating new jobs. No wonder why we're consistently voted as one of the worst states in which to do business.

Wednesday, July 5, 2006 6:58 PM
I remember when Kennywood and West View both required separate tax tickets to pay for the tax on the rides back in the pay-per-ride days. The tickets were 1 cent each and from 1 to 3 were required per ride (rides varied from 15 to 35 cents at that time). This system highlighted the tax and caused a lot of resentment toward the boroughs of West Mifflin and West View and their respective school districts. Efforts were made during this time to bar all municipalities except Philadelphia and Pittsburgh from levying an amusement tax but this failed to get through the legislature.
Thursday, July 6, 2006 3:47 PM
Jeff wrote: "OK, let me rephrase then. How will a new coaster increase the business at Kennywood?" Um...why wouldn't attract more business? That's like asking "How will the new Superman movie attract people to the Waterfront theaters? New attraction = new customers.
Thursday, July 6, 2006 4:57 PM
That's what Six Flags has been saying for years. Where did that get them?
Thursday, July 6, 2006 7:49 PM
You're also under the impression that Kennywood wants more business.

There's a reason that they don't do major advertising outside of a certain area. They feel that if people from all over descend on the park, it'll be overcrowded. That plus the confusing drive to the park may turn people off for good. Highway = expansion = more room for people = more rides = more advertising = more people.

As for where should the park spend this money, you have to remember that they never raised the ticket prices to reflect this tax even though that is where it is imposed. Kennywood won't have an extra $1.5 mil, they're just not going to be paying it.


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