Members of Columbus City Council hear proposal, sides on ticket tax

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - Members of the Rules and Reference Committee with Columbus City Council heard arguments both for and against the proposed ticket tax on Thursday.

"We have convened this public hearing to review the proposal and, more importantly, to hear feedback from the community," Council President Shannon Hardin said at the start of the meeting.

The hearing was on the seven percent ticket tax, proposed by the Greater Columbus Arts Council, which would be applied to non-profit arts and cultural organizations, performing arts, movies and sporting events at Nationwide Arena, The Schottenstein Center and Ohio Stadium.

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Tom Katzenmeyer with the Arts Council said it would give Columbus a much-needed financial shot in the arm.

"If we fail to stabilize our arts and cultural sector and arena, our city will suffer tangible losses," he said.

If passed, the tax would bring in more than $12 million a year in revenue and 70 percent of it would be given to arts and culture and about 30 percent, or roughly $4 million, would go to upkeep and upgrade Nationwide Arena to hopefully keep it around for the next 20 years.

Most of the speakers from the public were in favor of the tax.

The arts council provided a list of more than 50 organizations and individuals that support the proposal. Some though were not in agreement.

"So, here they are again begging for operating costs while using the arts as a way to gain favor," one man said at the podium. "It's really nothing more than a sleazy tactic that anyone with a lick of political perception can see right through."

One man called the proposal "unjust, financially harmful, unneeded and wrong for every ticket purchaser for every family and for every event in our community."

Only about half of the list of speakers were heard before President Hardin ended the meeting at 7 p.m.

Hardin said the committee will draft a revised proposal in a couple of months. At that time, he says, another public hearing will be scheduled.