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Published: Tuesday, 3/9/2010

Analysis from prosecutor's office says proposed event tax cannot be imposed on county-owned facilities


An analysis by the Lucas County prosecutor's office finds that Toledo cannot legally impose a ticket tax on events held at Lucas County facilities such as Fifth Third Field or the Lucas County Arena.

Mayor Mike Bell has proposed an 8 percent sports-and-events tax on admission tickets as part of his plan to close Toledo's $48 million budget deficit. If adopted by council, it would generate $1 million this year.

The analysis from the prosecutor's office, written for Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken, was contained in an internal memorandum released Tuesday. The analysis is advice to a client - in this case the county - and it does not rise to the level of a legal court opinion. The issue also remains under review, the office said.

The proposed tax has attracted vocal opposition from officials of the Mud Hens and Walleye and other venues such as the Stranahan Theater, who fear it would result in lower attendance.

Opponents have dubbed it the "Family Ticket Tax" because they say it would be paid by more than 80 percent of the area's families.

The prosecutor's analysis relies on a 1965 Ohio Supreme Court ruling that the village of Willoughby Hills could not impose a 3 percent tax on greens fees for a golf course within the village owned by the Cleveland Metropolitan Park District.

"We do not find any statutory provision that authorizes a municipality to impose a collection and remittance of an excise tax upon a governmental agency," the high court held.

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