Posted January 25, 2010
Turner To Seek
A city councilor says he has a solution to Tulsa's budget problems -- an entertainment user fee.
Roscoe Turner wants hotels, restaurants and event centers to help Tulsa out of its budget crisis. He's asking the city council to take a look at an entertainment tax, which he says could generate millions of dollars and potentially save hundreds of city jobs.
But, what is the response? We asked those impacted to take a look at his proposal.
Tulsans have helped invest millions in building and supporting the city's entertainment venues. Now, with the city in a financial crisis, could an entertainment tax be the answer?
"I just want to put this on the table and let the administration take a look at something other than just laying people off, getting rid of people it just doesn't make any sense," Turner says.
Recent efforts to move money from the trash fund failed. So Councilor Turner says it's time to do something different. He's looking at a 1-point-5 to 2 percent entertainment tax for those using the hotels, event centers, restaurants and even taxis.
He estimates revenue of 10 to 20 million dollars could be generated, or enough to solve the city's budget crisis.
"At the chamber, we get nervous about the word 'tax'," says Chamber President Mike Neal. "And we always get nervous about any new taxes and any new fees that might be proposed on the citizens of our city or the businesses."
"They're already taking part of our money, the chamber, convention and visitors bureau," says Turner. "So I don't see any problem. So welcome to Tulsa. Here's another bill, you got it."
An entertainment tax also makes the Oklahoma Hotel and Lodging Association nervous.
"When we impose taxes through lodging and entertainment, it's not people coming into Tulsa who are going to pay those taxes, it is our citizens," says Lacey Lamm. "We need to be very mindful of that."
But Turner says it's the citizens he has in mind. And for him, the issue remains public safety and finding a way to fund it and avoid layoffs.
This isn't the first time Turner has proposed an entertainment tax. He brought up the idea in 2000 and it failed to gain enough support. He's hoping this time will be different. The idea will be discussed in a city council public works committee next Tuesday.