Officials seeking to close a budget gap in Bethlehem, Pa., have riled up the entertainment community and a new venue with a measure that would impose a tax on event tickets.
Mayor John Callahan recently proposed tacking a 5 percent tax onto tickets – a plan that could reportedly generate as much as $600,000 for the city annually.
Bethlehem is facing a $4.8 million budget shortfall next year, according to the local Morning Call. The entertainment tax is one of several ideas being floated to shore up funds including an increase on real estate taxes, selling off city parking lots and cutting staff positions.
But Vision Entertainment Group, which partnered with the local Sands Casino to develop the 3,500-capacity Sands Bethlehem Event Center that opened in May, has balked over the news.
“After six months of record-setting numbers in entertainment for the Lehigh Valley and in excess of $10 million invested in the city, a plan to levy an amusement tax is a major change in the business model which was used to guide our investment decision,” Vision Entertainment’s Jerry Deifer told the paper.
The event center is managed by SMG and booked by Live Nation.
Events at Musikfest Cafe At ArtsQuest Center, PNC Plaza At Steelstacks and venues on the Lehigh University and Moravian College campuses would also be subjected to the tax, though smaller shows at bars, churches and high schools wouldn’t likely be affected, the paper said.