Trustees in La Grange are considering revisiting the issue of whether to add an amusement tax to ticket sales at the La Grange Theatre, 84 S. La Grange Rd., to help raise revenue for the village in a way that wouldn’t target residents with the assumption being many patrons of the La Grange Theatre do not live in La Grange.
The issue has been brought up several times during budget discussions in recent meetings by Trustee Michael Horvath as a way to fill a $133,000 budget deficit that was incurred when the board failed to pass a utility tax increase in April. Although the board had planned for the tax increase in its budget planning session in fall 2011, three trustees surprised their fellow board members by voting against the increase, which left the board to pass the budget and go into deficit spending.
Even though the board signaled their support for village staff's plan to patch the deficit at a workshop meeting on Monday evening, some trustees said they would still like to consider an amusement tax to raise more revenue for the village. Due to support for the tax leaving the board divided, Village Board President Liz Asperger instructed Village Manager Robert Pilipiszyn to work on getting the board more information, but not to make it a priority.
Trustees Bill Holder, Jim Palermo and Michael Horvath each said they would like to see more information about the tax. Trustees Jim Nowak, Mark Kuchler and Mark Langan said they were opposed to the tax, or did not want village staff to spend time looking into it.
The board last discussed a possible amusement tax on theatre tickets in 2009, according to a staff memo. At the time, a 50-cent tax on tickets was considered with estimated yearly revenue to the village of $80,000. At the time the board did not decide to adopt the tax for reasons that included keeping ticket prices affordable for children and families and no consensus on how to use the revenue it would generate.
Trustee Palermo said in his instructions to village staff, that in reference to keeping the theatre affordable, he wanted to know why ticket prices has already increased at the theatre by $1 from $4.50 to $5.50.
Trustee Nowak disagreed, and added that he believed the government asking a business to discuss how and why they set their prices set a "scary" precedent. Palermo returned that he believed using TIF money to finance the theatre's renovations set a scary precedent, but the discussion was quickly ended when several board members and the village president asked to not revisit an issue that had already been decided and completed.
A request for comment from the owners of the La Grange Theatre on a possible amusement tax was not returned at this time.