Monday, February 04, 2008

Review of Food and Beverage Tax

We have talked about this before and this post is not an debate exercise but an attempt to gather complete details for a formidable response. So before I ask the tough questions and make some pretty harsh statements I have been doing some research and cant find the point in time when a continuation of the Allen County Food and Beverage Tax was extended or why. It seems like it just sort of happened and no body thought the miser of it.

According to the original law the tax was to expire 30th of June, 2000.

On the 14th of February 2001 our County Commissioners in regards to the renovations at the Memorial Coliseum brought up some interesting statistics and questions but I will highlight just two: tax revenues from Food & Beverage as projected and the Coliseum revenues held flat at $400,000; and, Commissioner Irving asked where the $1,242,342.00 contribution from the Coliseum would come from and when would those contributions be paid to the account. Fishering said that the funds are existing, original Food & Beverage tax revenues, on hand at the Auditor’s office. The amount is closer to $2.4 million.

What is the surplus at now?
Is there one?
Somebody let the Auditor know I will be calling.

There are also three taxes that the Memorial Coliseum feeds exclusively off of: The two Food and Beverage Taxes and a Professional Sports Development Zone I am assuming the PSDZ is like a TIF, but again it is an assumption. With that assumption though, I am left with two questions:
How much money is the MC going to loose with the new Stadium being built downtown?
Is the boondoggle known as Harrison Square going to recieve a PSDZ of its own?

To answer some of my questions or at least get further data I turn to an awesome article done recently by Michael Summers @ The Fort Wayne Reader entitled Myths of the Smoking Ban (also available here).
The theory that smokers are now going outside the city limits might explain the fact that collections from Allen County’s Food and Beverage Tax haven’t seemed to change much. According to the Indiana Department of Revenue, collections from May of 2007 were over $513,000, and dropped to $395,000 for June, after the smoking ban went into effect. It’s a considerable drop, especially considering the collections from the same period the previous year went up from $451,000 to over $548,000. But collections were back up to $548,421.90 for July 2007. “Part of what’s happening is when they report the food and beverage tax, that’s for the whole county, that’s not for the city of Fort Wayne only,” Loren Fifer says. “The county hasn’t lost any taxes but the bars and restaurants (outside Fort Wayne) have picked up patrons. Sure, the taxes are up. They should be, because everyone has raised their prices to stay in business.”
If (note I said if) the money from the Food and Beverage taxes exclusively funds the Memorial Coliseum and they are pulling in half a million dollars a month, why for goodness sake are residents paying up to five dollars to park for three -five hours at a time? Why do they need a PSDZ also? Why are we letting this tax continue without oversight or redirecting any surplus to a general fund so that other services can be paid for without raising the other levies?

Just some random thoughts and questions I will enjoy reading your answers.


John B. Kalb said...

Fr. Fozy Bear - I checked on the balance in the Allen Co. Food & Beverage Tax Fund back in July of last year and it was then very close to $10 million - with a potential of over $14 million by mid 2008 - or, for my purpose in asking, enough to fund the "upgrade" of Memorial Stadium to avoid the boondoggle of tearing it down and constucting the unneccessary Harrison Square ballpark. And, keep in mind that all bonds issued to cover construction of Memorial Stadium, were totally paid off in July of 2007.
In regard to the parking charge at the Coliseum, I remember when it was built that the @.25 parking fee was promised to be eliminated "when the cost of paving the lots is collected". This event (the collection of required amount) occured in about September of 1958. "Once a political entity gets a fee established, it will never, short of court rulings, be eliminated".

John B. Kalb

John B. Kalb

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