Bike Week fuels sales tax boost

Bikers inject more revenue into county’s coffers
Andy Ouriel
Sep 19, 2013


Droves of motorcyclists attending Ohio’s largest two-wheeled extravaganza revved up both their bikes and the local economy.

Shoppers purchasing taxable goods in June throughout Erie County generated $1.49 million in local sales tax income.

The $1.49 million represents a 1 percent gain compared to June 2012.

To date, county officials have collected about $10 million in sales tax through 2013. They’re also $259,000 above the projected amount officials estimated they’d receive by today’s date.

All told, sales tax income should meet, if not exceed, the $14 million figure budgeted for 2013. The final collection is in December.

“The sales tax keeps indicating that the general economic climate in Erie County and the U.S. continues to do better,” Erie County commissioner Bill Monaghan said.

Monaghan credited a surging sales tax figure to families scheduling vacations in popular places, including Cedar Point and Kalahari Resort.

But 160,000 people showing up for Ohio Bike Week — an early June motorcycle event spanning 10 days with dozens of events located across Erie County— also produced big bucks for county officials.

“Despite the weather, we had record crowds,” Ohio Bike Week organizer Steve Ernst said.

Sales tax represents about half the county commissioners’ everyday operating budget, totaling about $26 million each year. Sales tax money helps pay for various services, including court, sheriff and maintenance operations.

Sales tax collection

Past three months

• June 2013: $1.49 million 
• May 2013: $1.24 million 
• April 2013: $1.08 million

Past June collections

• June 2013: $1.49 million
• June 2012: $1.47 million
• June 2011: $1.46 million

Total collections through first nine months of:

• 2013: $10 million
• 2012: $9.74 million
• 2011: $9.31 million

Note: Erie County officials finalize sales tax figures three months after the actual collection. For instance, June’s collection was finalized in September.
Source: Erie County finance department



So, what was the cost to government to stage the event? A small boost in sales tax doesn't mean much if there is a huge increase in expenditure associated with staging the event. The tax increase is not pure profit.

How about comparing BW tax revenue with the years before BW? I'd bet there's a surge in revenue every June.

Here's an experiment: let's cancel BW next year to see if we still get those "big bucks" for the county. Heck, we might even make more money by not driving away all of the people who would otherwise come, but choose to avoid the hassle.

Señor Clown

I'd like to see what the sales tax receipts were for July or August of previous years, and how the parallel is made between bike week and higher sales tax receipts in June. It seems a bit pretentious to attribute sales tax numbers going up in June to bike week alone, and not to summer, school getting out, or any other factors.

Actually, looking at the numbers given, June sales tax increases haven't kept pace with the rate of annual sales tax growth, which could be interpreted to mean that bike week is a detriment to the local economy.

Señor Clown

To elaborate, let's look at it this way.

First 9 months 2011 -> 2012 = +4.6%
First 9 months 2012 -> 2013 = +2.7%

June 2011 -> 2012 = +0.7%
June 2012 -> 2013 = +1.3%


Local governments are reimbursed by the event organizers for their costs.