PROPER CONTEXT: THE AMUSEMENT TAX
Here are some things to consider relative to the recently amended Amusement Tax ordinance...
- Amending this ordinance is not an opportunistic "money grab.” The ordinance has been on the books for quite a few years - just not deployed.
- The issue of an ordinance being on the books but not followed started hitting the city clerk’s radar in early 2016.
- The city council and I went into it very slowly and warily. It was not rammed through hastily.
- Amending the ordinance to make it usable has been discussed publicly in several formats and forums for over one year.
- The amended version was passed by the city council unanimously. There was no dissention or even contrary debate.
- The issue surfaced during a time when the city was wrestling with excessive demands of the tourism fund… which is a good problem to have.
- Events held at the Effingham Performance Center are obligated by the Amusement Tax.The Central Illinois Arts Connection is a not-for-profit organization and when it holds events outside the EPC, it is exempt from the Amusement Tax, as are all not-for-profits.
- The intent is to create a revenue stream via patrons of the arts by which we can properly support arts & entertainment in Effingham. Not take money out of artist's pockets.
- We’re fortunate in that we have great energy in Effingham around events and entertainment… our people are doing a great job with it… and the city council feels it’s appropriate to ask those who enjoy our local talent to make small contributions to help us make sure our infrastructure is right, that word gets out about the events, and that we have proper public safety measures in place.
- The point is to leverage the wonderful and very much appreciated talents of the local artists… not to take anything out of their pocket… but to ask patrons to “tip” the process and system that support the artist’s efforts.
- My advice to artists and event coordinators: Embrace the spirit of the legislation… give it a try. See if you can figure out how to give the patrons who love you the chance to recognize the local entertainment environment by making a small monetary contribution.