Bell Rejects Casino's Plan for Tax Relief

The City Council this week rejected a request by the California Bell Club for a year's extension of the tax relief the club has had for 10 of the last 12 months.

The club is currently paying a flat 10% on monthly grosses of about $800,000, a rate granted in April that will expire June 30. Normally, the club would be in the city's 13% tax bracket. Tax breaks in the past have been granted to help the club compete with those clubs in adjacent communities that pay lower taxes. The California Bell Club is Bell's largest taxpayer, contributing more than 10% of the city's $9-million annual budget.

Manning told the council that tax relief is necessary to enable the club to do market research and promotion and to pay dividends to limited partners.

The details of the request by club lawyer Howard Manning Jr. caught members of the council by surprise. Council members said they were expecting Manning to ask for even greater relief--a flat 9% tax rate, which had been discussed earlier at meetings between the club and city staff.

Instead, Manning handed members of the council copies of a tax proposal calling for a 10% levy on gross revenues up to $1 million a month, with a sliding scale of 11% to 13% charged on amounts greater than $1 million a month.

Councilman George Cole said: "There's a terrible credibility gap here. We sat in a meeting a year ago in which we asked that this (research and promotion) be done. We asked for a business plan. We gave money specifically for that purpose. Maybe we should get that money back."

Manning told the council that the club changed its proposal at the last minute because 9% "was asking too much from the council."

The new proposal was turned over to a council subcommittee for study.

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