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Columbus Ticket Tax Opponents Hope To Change City Charter

Ohio Theatre
Wikimedia Commons

They may have missed their 30-day window for a referendum, but opponents of Columbus’ new ticket tax are still pursuing efforts to keep it from going into effect.Local conservative activist Mike Gonidakis and Bluestone venue owner Bret Adams on Thursday announced plans for a city charter revision. To do so, they’d need about 11,000 valid petition signatures by July 3 to put it before voters.

“The original rules of the game gave us 30 days to do an initiative to invalidate the ordinance,” Gonidakis said in a call with reporters. “But when we sat down with our team and looked at the way to make this a permanent solution, we believed a charter amendment was the best way to go.”

Gonidakis says the charter revision would be a better way to fight similar tax efforts in the future. He says they also plan a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of the ticket tax.

Council approved the tax in December as a way to fund local arts organizations and arts education programs. The tax, scheduled to take effect July 1, would also send money to Nationwide Arena for maintenance projects. The Greater Columbus Arts Council will oversee some of the tax revenue.

“We need to shore up our anchor institutions, and we need to be able to fund artists programs year-round,” GCAC vice president Jami Goldstein said during a public meeting last summer. “Right now we run out of money about halfway through the year.”

It was originally proposed as a 7 percent tax, but was eventually lowered to 5 percent and exempts venues with fewer than 400 seats, events with tickets costing less than $10, and high school and NCAA events. It also exempts events hosted by many non-profit organizations, including the All American Quarter Horse Congress.

Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.