But a small contingent frustrated by Sandusky officials cutting programs and services assembled to restock the city’s coffers through a proposed tax increase.
Several residents recently formed the group Rebuild Sandusky, which is essentially a grassroots effort to replenish city programs and services.
The group’s pitch revolves around creating funds by increasing Sandusky’s 3 percent admissions tax rate.
Hypothetically, if a majority of city voters approved the issue in November, extra funds would go toward paving roads, filling potholes quicker, removing dead trees and keeping the three fire stations open at all times.
An admissions tax increase could also restock severely depleted staffing levels at the fire and police departments.
Earlier this year, city commissioners cut $1.1 million of services to balance their $16.3 million everyday operating budget for 2014. To do this, however, commissioners needed to slash several services, including periodically closing down fire station No. 7 on Venice Road.
Some residents decided they needed to bring back, preserve and even strengthen vital quality-of-life services.
“I know no one likes to pay more taxes, but at least I can try to pick and choose which ones I pay” said group member and Wilbert Street resident Vicki Bird. “I understand people won’t support this, but I want to make it possible to place an initiative on the ballot”
Bird estimates the group will likely need about $6,000 for legal fees so a lawyer can help place the issue on November’s ballot. By early August, group members would likely need to finalize and submit all paperwork, including valid signatures on a petition, to the Erie County Board of Elections.
The effort revs up Sunday with a spaghetti dinner benefit, with all funds going toward the cause.
“I’m willing to be a tourist in my own town and pay a few extra bucks if it would help this city out,” Bird said.
Bird said she wasn’t sure how much more the admissions tax rate should or could be. Along with income and lodging taxes, admissions taxes represent a major funding source for Sandusky’s government operation.
The admissions tax, a 3 percent fee tacked onto ticket sales at Sanduskybased entertainment venues, largely depends upon Cedar Point — the undisputed giant in the region’s entertainment industry.
From 1998 to 2012, only once did a yearly admissions tax top $2.65 million.
In 2013, when Cedar Point debuted the roller coaster GateKeeper, city officials collected $2.81 million in admissions taxes — the most ever in Sandusky’s history.
Bird said she did support the admissions tax doubling to 6 percent. If the admissions tax totaled 6 percent a year ago, city officials would have generated about $5.62 million — more than enough to handle their shortfall from earlier this year.
But others aren’t so receptive to the idea.
“I applaud their effort, and I’m willing to listen to what the public has to say about this, but I personally do not support raising the admissions tax,” commissioner Wes Poole said. “The city of Sandusky needs to spend the money we have more wisely. The approach of just throwing money at our problems is not one I want to support. Raising a bunch of money to be spent the same way it has been spent in the past is not something I’m supportive of.”
•WHAT: Spaghetti dinner fundraiser to generate money in hopes of placing an admissions tax increase proposal on November’s ballot for Sandusky residents.
•4 percent: $3.74 million
•5 percent: $4.68 million
•6 percent: $5.62 million
•7 percent: $6.55 million
•8 percent: $7.49 million