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Universal City : Entertainment Tax Plan Draws Little Fire

Strong opposition to an entertainment tax at Universal Studios and Six Flags Magic Mountain failed to materialize this week during a hearing before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

The lone speaker opposed to the proposed 2% tax on ticket sales at the two theme parks was Jack Kyser, chief economist at the Economic Development Corp., a nonprofit business association.

“I have serious concerns about tax increases that will only generate modest returns,” Kyser told the supervisors Thursday. “I am particularly concerned about the taxes on amusement parks at Universal City and Magic Mountain. They are part of our tourist economy and [the taxes] could very well place them at a competitive disadvantage.”

If approved, the entertainment tax would generate about $2 million this year and nearly $3 million in future years.

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The board is considering eight taxes to help reduce a $1.2-billion budget deficit. The proposed levies would be imposed on cable TV companies, water users, sewer users, business owners, hotel and motel operators, refuse collectors, landfill operators and amusement parks.

A majority of the supervisors made it clear that they had little sympathy for the entertainment giants who have objected to what amounts to about a 70-cent charge on each $35 admission ticket.

“Competitive disadvantage?” said Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. “By having ticket prices the same price as Disneyland, haven’t they placed themselves at a competitive disadvantage? . . . I’ll take Disneyland over Universal City any day. There are lots more rides, lots more options.”

Only Supervisor Deane Dana spoke against the proposed entertainment tax, saying, “A tax of any magnitude is sending the wrong message.” The board is scheduled to vote on the tax increases after a second public hearing Aug. 24.

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