Citizens Testify Against Proposed Amusement Tax For Frederick County

They say it will hurt local small entertainment businesses.

Frederick, Md (KM) A large crowd of people, mostly owners of small entertainment venues, testified Tuesday night before the Frederick County Council on a proposal to bring back the admissions  and amusement tax.

A revised version was presented to the Council which would set the tax at five percent, not 10 percent as originally proposed. It’s expected to bring $800,000 in revenue which would go to the general fund, not a specific account to promote the arts in the county. The  levy would be imposed on all amusement venues with the exception of ag tourism and volunteer fire companies.

Many of those who testified own   a lot  of these   local amusement venues.   Tom Dixon of Braddock Heights, the owner of the Tuscarora Tennis Club, said the tax would hurt  his company.  . “As a result, in my view, small businesses, like Tuscarora, would be singled out and effectively discriminated against by this new tax. Of course, there are many, many businesses that won’t pay the tax,” he said.

Tabetha McLaughlin is with Urban Air, and she said this tax will  be borne by her customers. “Most of our people who come in, most of the patrons, are from Frederick County, and they bring their kids and they do memberships and they come in all the time,” she said. “So this five percent tax will go to them.”

In addition to the small business owners, the Council also heard from patrons of many of these local venues. Mary Ella Rocha  is single mother of two children who have visited places such as Urban Air and Adventure Park. She made a plea to the Council. “When we’re hearing that these businesses that are going to be affected, that they’re struggling, that they might not  be able to stay open, please consider voting no for this,”  Rocha said.

Jason Miller of Mount Airy said this tax would affect the 37,050 families described in the ALICE report as struggling financially. “It’s no secret that the cost of living is going up, but the quality of life is going down,” he said. “So why would you in a million years at a time when there is record high inflation suggest that the county’s  solution to all of these expenses is to raise taxes on the people that can least afford it.”

ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.

The Council is expected to take up this issue again on January 2nd.

The last Board of County Commissioners in 2013 dropped the admissions and amusement tax rate to zero percent.

By Kevin McManus