While the city of Spokane Valley could bring in some extra revenue if a state-allowed 5-percent admissions tax were imposed, council members seemed chilly to the idea at Tuesday’s study session.
“Why are we talking about this?” queried City Council Member Chuck Hafner at the conclusion of a staff presentation on the topic.
Council members then agreed that the matter – which had been discussed in February and again in May – would be dropped for now.
City staffers had floated the idea while perusing possible new revenue sources for Spokane Valley. The cities of Spokane, Liberty Lake and Airway Heights all have their own versions of an admission tax – allowable at entertainment events or recreational opportunities – of varying degrees.
“This is a tax administered at the local level,” said Erik Lamb, deputy city attorney.
For example, Liberty Lake imposes a 5-percent tax at its golf courses and driving ranges – but that’s it. Airway Heights primarily generates its tax at the city’s raceway and movie theater.
Spokane, however, brought in an estimated $810,000 in 2014 from just about every place allowable under Washington state law. The 5-percent tax is imposed on everything from Spokane Chiefs season ticket packages to live-music cover charges at bars.
“We don’t have the same type of venues as Spokane, but we do have the fairgrounds,” Lamb said.
With 100 events each year – the Spokane County Interstate Fair being the largest – Spokane Valley could generate upward of $50,000 in revenue from the county-owned fairgrounds alone, not including events at adjacent Avista Stadium. The tax would not be levied against those renting space for events, just on admission, Lamb said.
While the council mostly sat quietly during the presentation, it soon became clear that talks of the new tax would not be asked to return for an encore.
“I’d rather not move forward,” said Council Member Bill Gothmann. “I don’t see a need for it.”
“I don’t either,” agreed Mayor Dean Grafos.
The council will meet next Tuesday at 6 p.m. for a formal meeting, which will include a new public hearing on the city’s current mining moratorium. There will be no meeting on Aug. 4, which is National Night Out.