Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan sent a proposed amusement tax ordinance to City Council Thursday that has the apparent blessing of large entertainment venues that had earlier criticized the idea.
Callahan says the tax on concert tickets and other entertainment is needed to help pay for escalating public safety costs without putting more of the burden on city property owners.
In November, Sands Bethlehem Event Center officials criticized a proposed 5-percent-a-ticket tax that would have added a $2.50 cost to a $50 ticket. But the proposed ordinance Callahan sent to City Council was more to their liking.
"We worked with the mayor and are happy with the outcome," said Sands Event Center Partner Jerry Deifer in a prepared statement released by the city.
Jeff Parks, president of ArtsQuest, added: "While the imposition of any new tax is not a welcome act, we believe that this tax, which excludes tickets, admissions and cover charges of $10 or less and has a maximum of 5 percent or $1.50 per ticket, will not have a significant impact on concert, sports and theatre ticket sales as it is less than the state sales tax on goods and services."
The tax would be capped at $1.50 per ticket, according to the ordinance.
Venues are exempt from the tax if:
-- They have crowd capacities of 200 people or fewer.
-- The admission prices are $10 or less
-- Admissions are sponsored, organized and promoted by groups such as school districts or municipalities.
"I always felt throughout this process that by working together we could find the right balance that was fair for the taxpayers of Bethlehem and supported by these important new emerging entertainment destinations in the City," Callahan said.