Saratoga Springs eyes tax on concert tickets

The City of Saratoga Springs is considering turning to attendees of rock concerts at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center for some fiscal assistance by placing a $2 fee on every ticket purchased.

Though the proposal is not finalized, it is clear that the surcharge would apply only to Live Nation events and would exclude other SPAC programming, including the classical season. Representatives of the venue and Live Nation expressed opposition to the idea.

Finance Commissioner Ken Ivins had planned to set a public hearing on the proposal at the Tuesday, July 21, meeting of the City Council, but pulled the item from his agenda to take more time to polish it.

We're still tidying up some loose ends, said Ivins. "It took us a while to get some answers from the state Department of Taxation and Finance."

Leveling fees on SPAC or race course admissions have been two frequently discussed revenue possibilities at the City Council table in past months as the city leadership debates ways to solve an unprecedented budget crisis.

Earlier this month, the body voted 3-2 to close a budget gap with $2.8 million worth of cuts and money from the city's reserve fund.

On Tuesday, Ivins asked Public Safety Commissioner Ron Kim to prepare an outline of how rock concerts at SPAC impact the city's spending, particularly with police overtime.

"I look at this as a way to bring additional revenue from people outside the city who are using our facilities," said Ivins.

SPAC President and Executive Director Marcia White disagreed with that reasoning, saying that the venue is on state parkland and is covered by park police.

"I don't see that there is a tremendous burden on the city," she said. "I think that the revenue generated by people coming from different areas to Saratoga for a Live Nation event and the money they spend here far outweighs the services they may use."

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