Harveysburg approves new admissions tax targeted at Ohio Renaissance Festival

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Harveysburg Village Council on Monday approved a 3% admissions tax on event ticket sales in the village, which includes the Ohio Renaissance Festival and the thousands of visitors it attracts annually.

Council said it hopes the tax will help address its fiscal issues following the defeat of the village’s operational and police levies in the Nov. 7 election. During the same election, voters voted not to dissolve the village.

The tax is estimated to generate an additional $150,000 to $180,000 a year for the village mostly from visitors to the Ohio Renaissance Festival, according to Council President Mark Tipton.

He said the tax would amount to 96 cents additional per $32 ticket for admission to the Ohio Renaissance Festival. The tax would also apply to carnivals, recreational activities and equipment, live or recorded performances, exhibitions or displays, spectator sports, entertainment events, participatory sports, games and activities. He also said the village is permitted to charge admission taxes up to 8% under state law.

Tipton, who was appointed to a vacant council seat four years ago, was not elected to a term of his own last week and will leave office on Dec. 31.

Tipton said the original 25-year contract that expired last December with the festival featured an annual payment in lieu of an admissions tax. In the last year of the agreement, the payment was for $44,000.

“We’re following through what Ohio law allows,” he said. “We’re trying to reconcile a mistake that was made 25 years ago.”

Tipton said neither he or other council members have spoken to David Ashcraft of Brimstone & Fire LLC, owner of the Ohio Renaissance Festival, due to current litigation pending in Warren County Common Pleas Court which is in mediation. Ashcraft is seeking to detach from the village. The court is reviewing motions for summary judgement and a trial is scheduled for May 2024.

Ashcraft has previously said they will challenge the admissions tax in court. A message seeking comment was left on Tuesday afternoon.

The village has the authority to impose up to a 1% income tax without a public vote but has chosen not to impose an income tax on its residents. Other than the festival’s payment to the village, Harveysburg relies on traffic fines through its Mayor’s Court and property taxes for revenues.

As for placing a renewal for the operations levy on the March primary ballot, Tipton said a decision to do so has to be made by Dec. 17. However, he is not certain about the future of the police levy or the department, noting that the public has spoken.

“We’re common sense people who are trying to get for the residents what’s due to the residents,” Tipton said.

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