Local entertainment managers and owners are taking a wait-and-see approach before taking a position on Gov. John Kasich's tax proposals discussed in his state of the state speech Tuesday night.
Fair officials, a founder of River Rock at the Amp and a community theater manager each said they want to see the details in the governor's proposal to lower the state's income taxes by 20 percent over the next three years and small business taxes by 50 percent. The state's financial losses would be offset by broadening the types of organizations that would be required to collect sales taxes.
Among those groups that may face a 5 percent sales tax that previously were excluded from taxes may be lawyers, architects and entertainment and recreational venues.
Jan Solomon, the Trumbull County Fair Board secretary, said they are waiting until the final version of the governor's sales tax proposal is completed.
However, based on preliminary information from the Ohio Fair Manager's newsletter, Solomon says the proposal could have a devastating effect on state fairs.
"It may require fairs to collect sales taxes for admissions, for those providing rides and games; and for those needing to park their trailers overnight," Solomon said. "We would be taxing almost every portion of our business."
Solomon said some game providers already are dropping out because they are not earning enough.
"We are a non-profit organization that helps promote agriculture in Trumbull County," Solomon said.
Brenda Richman, financial secretary with Trumbull County Fair Board, said the state unsuccessfully attempted to tax gate admission six or seven years ago, but that effort was pushed back by lobbyists for the Ohio Fair Managers Association.
The organization's most recent newsletter urged members to contact their state legislative leaders and ask them to vote no on the sales tax proposal.
"With the rising costs the fair could just become too expensive for most families to afford," according to Ohio Fair Managers Association's newsletter. "The same applies to the games, amusement rides and parking."
Marty Cohen, one of the founders of River Rock at the Amp, said that he has not studied the governor's proposal. However, he added, any tax increase on entertainment would not be welcomed.
"It would not help," he said.
John Ballantyne, managing director of the Victorian Players in Youngstown, questions whether the governor's proposals will include the selling of tickets.
"We're currently a tax-exempt organization, so I question how the sales tax plan will affect that status," Ballantyne said.
However, even if the governor's plan includes taxing tickets sold by community theaters, Ballantyne does not expect the tax to significantly affect the theater's customers.
"Our ticket prices are pretty low," he said. "We charge $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors."
The theater plans to do 10 plays this season.