Frederick County Considering Bringing Back Admissions & Amusement Tax

A hearing on that proposal is scheduled for this week  before the Council.

Frederick, Md (KM) Citizens will get the chance this week to comment on a proposal to bring back an admissions and amusement tax. The current county budget  calls for bringing back that levy at a 10 percent rate. If it’s enacted, the tax would be imposed on movies, amusement rides, miniature golf, driving ranges, golf cart rentals, golf greens fees and other events. The revenue would be used to “support the development of businesses, enterprises, arts, and technologies that focus on creativity, innovation, and alternate business models that encourage vibrant business activity and growth in Frederick County communities,” according to the Livable Frederick Master Plan.

The background from the county staff says Livable Frederick calls for finding innovative ways for the arts to improve the community, and pursue other opportunities to grow the tourism, hospitality and recreation sectors in the county. The County Executive’s Transition Team has recommended  that the county “work with stakeholders in the arts community to develop and implement a strategy to grow the creative economy,” according to the background prepared by the county staff.

During a recent budget hearing hosted by County Executive Jessica Fitzwater, Doug Schweinhart, the majority owner of Tree Trekkers, testified against it. “I don’t how anyone else looks at it, but I think that puts the county in the positions of picking winners and losers,” he said. “We are going to be the losers, and people who get these grants are going to be the winners.”

Schweinhart also said it would hurt the working class who often patronize movie theaters.

Ashley Schweinhart, who is also with Tree Trekkers, said it’s taking money form one sector of the economy, and giving it to another. “How is that fair to take money from the working class to create a slush fund for you to decide who gets these grants,”; she asked. “And, again, there’s nobody in this room that has said that they need more creative arts businesses in Frederick County.”

In 2013, the last Board of County Commissioners reduced the admission and amusement tax to zero percent That law was repealed in June, 2023. Chief Administrative Officer John Peterson told Council members they needed to repeal the law if they want to bring back the admissions and amusement tax.

On Tuesday,  the Council will hold a hearing at Winchester Hall  on whether to reimpose this tax. It will take place during a meeting which begins at 5:30 PM.

By Kevin McManus