April 19, 2014 - 08:40
Amusement tax rate set
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Article Author: Emily Dilbeck
Each year’s rate is determined by the number of customers participating in amusement activities divided by the costs incurred by the County as a result of providing services related to rafting on the Ocoee River.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners met on Thursday, December 20th at the Copper Basin Senior Center for its regularly scheduled meeting.

With the exception of 3rd District Commissioner Sheena Gaddis, all were present.

The Board discussed the 2013 amusement tax rate. Each year’s rate is determined by the number of customers participating in amusement activities divided by the costs incurred by the County as a result of providing services related to rafting on the Ocoee River.

In 2012, the County’s cost related to providing services was estimated at $56,246.17. The number of paying customers was recorded as 199,148.

The resolution proposed by the Board was to require a 28¢ tax for each customer. Commissioner Lewis made a motion to accept this resolution and Commissioner Waters seconded.

Commissioner Pippenger told the Board that very few rafting companies were paying the County these taxes and those that were paying were doing so in protest.

He suggested that at the end of this year, the County Commission review which companies are paying the taxes and which are not and decide whether or not to ask Nashville to remove the Ocoee Whitewater Sales Tax Exemption. Currently, rafting companies are exempt from paying the State Sales Tax, but must pay Polk County’s Amusement Tax.

Pippenger said doing away with the Amusement Tax and re-implementing the State Sales Tax would do away with all arguments and mean any non-paying companies would have to answer to the State.

Commissioner Brooks said that the County had met this year’s projected collection of 42.8%, meaning less than half of the companies paid their amusement taxes.

Brooks then asked “Mr. Pippenger in the Legal Department” how the rafting companies could get away with not paying the taxes, if they were charging customers for the amusement tax. Pippenger said the rafting companies were not required to break down charges on their receipts, so customers would not know what charges were for which taxes or services.

Waters retracted his second of the motion, adding, “these people aren’t paying anything.” Commissioner Woody then made a second. The resolution passed.

The Board also addressed concerns regarding the replacement of several school buses. Commissioner Brooks explained currently the State requires the County to replace any “convention or Class D school bus operating in its 16th or 17th year with more than 200,000 miles.” Brooks said many of the County’s buses of this age were still usable and that replacing them would be a burden to the County.

The resolution Brooks proposed would ask the State to change the current legislation, extending the replacement cutoff of 200,000 miles to 260,000 miles.

Commissioner Waters motioned to approve and Commissioner Pippenger seconded. The motion passed.

The Commission also approved several budget amendments to purchase computers for the Veteran Affairs Office and flow through grant monies applied for by the School System.

The Polk County Commission meets every 3rd Thursday at 7 pm, alternating between the Polk County Courthouse and the Copper Basin Senior Center. Next month’s meeting is scheduled for Thursday, January 17th at 7 pm in the Benton Courthouse.

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