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Cedar Point takes lead on admissions tax

Register • Jul 25, 2014 at 2:50 PM

Editor’s note: This is the letter sent from Cedar Point vice president and general manager Jason McClure to Sandusky city manager Eric Wobser concerning the proposed admissions tax increase:

Dear Eric,

As you heard in your first meeting with our team, Cedar Fair recognizes the importance of generating additional economic development in Sandusky. A healthy and growing economy benefits both today’s citizens and importantly, those generations who come behind us.

A little over a year ago we started an internal analysis to determine the best approach to support a broader range of local economic development efforts. This work recognized the loss of resources the city has experienced as the state tax system has evolved.

As you now have learned, taxes paid by Cedar Point to the city represent more than one-third of the total annual tax receipts for the city.

Cedar Point is also responsible for more than 98 percent of the admission taxes the city receives. For the long-term health of the city, we simply must continue to find opportunities to diversify and grow the tax base.

While I know it is extremely early in your tenure with the City, we have been very encouraged by your commitment to taking a thoughtful approach to reinvigorating the local economy.

As we have explained to you, within rational limits, we support broad based taxes such as income taxes, as this aligns everyone’s interests and, to some degree, would start to moderate the city’s reliance on a single tax payer.

To demonstrate our commitment to the opportunities that you see ahead of us, we are prepared to pay additional taxes as notedbelow.

As part of our on-going, corporate tax planning we are prepared to execute an approach that will, based upon our current performance, result in the city receiving additional income tax revenue from Cedar Point of approximately $500,000 annually beginning in 2015.

Additionally, we will support a 1 percent increase in the admission tax rate, subject to the approval of a .25% increase in the city’s income tax rate; and, the absence of any competing admission tax proposals.

These additional revenue streams will help to stabilize the budget challenge. To solidify the city’s commitment to long-term economic development, we have agreed that 50 percent of the admission tax increase will be dedicated to an economic development fund that would be directed by your office.

From 2012 to the end of 2015, Cedar Point will have invested more than $100 million in incremental capital expenditures designed to protect and grow tourist visitation to Cedar Point with ancillary benefits to local businesses. Finding others who will invest in the future of Sandusky is critical. With the increased tax revenues referenced above along with your dedicated commitment to developing a vision for moving Sandusky forward, there will be both the tools and the plan to make a real difference. We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with you and other community leaders to build on the progress implied by this first step. Welcome home to Sandusky. Sincerely,

—Jason McClure

Vice President & General Manager Cedar Point

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