Amusement tax discussed
By Rob Wheary, Staff Writer • firstname.lastname@example.org
TREMONT – Township supervisors are looking to enforce a decades-old amusement tax ordinance, which may affect the Rausch Creek Off-Road Park.
At their meeting Monday night, a good portion of the meeting was dedicated to discussion a new PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement between the township and the park.
Rausch Creek, a popular off-road trail park located along Molleystown Road has thousands of visitors visit each year in addition to hosting various competitions and exhibition events, along with charity rides.
Since the park opened, the township and park have had an agreement in place to make a lump sum payment to the township to operate the park instead of paying the 10 percent tax on each vehicle and rider. That agreement is coming to an end and the two sides are negotiating a new deal.
The supervisors are unhappy with the current deal, feeling they are getting cheated.
“At a jeep event, there are about 300 to 500 Jeeps up there, all of them paying a fee, and we only get the one-time payment. They need to be held accountable,” one resident said.
Township solicitor Mark Barket said that the park brings in revenue for the businesses in the area and community help, but supervisor John Brommer said the park is not holding to their word.
“It’s in the agreement that they should be posting signs and blocking areas so the vehicles should not be crossing township roads. They aren’t doing that,” Brommer said. “Also, the agreement said the park members will do 500 hours of community service. That’s not being done.”
Park officials want a new five-year agreement with a payment starting at $5,600 and going up to $8,400 at the end of the five years. Township officials want a one-year agreement with two clauses included — 1. that if any roads need to be repaired or replaced, the club would be responsible and that the township has the right to cancel the agreement with 30 days notice, reverting back to the amusement tax.
In a hypothetical situation, Barket feels the township is leaving money on the table.
“On an average year, if they get about 15,000 vehicles there, paying $10 a vehicle, the 10 percent tax will net you $15,000 a year,” Barket said.
According to the park’s website, riders must pay a $15 yearly membership fee to join, and then pay $40 per driver and $7 per passenger. Using Barket’s hypothetical numbers, $40 a vehicle would net the township about $60,000 if they go the route of the amusement tax.
“The question is do you want to be bad neighbors and do that to the park, knowing the revenue it brings into the community,” Barket said.
Township supervisors are hoping to meet with park officials before the next township meeting to discuss the situation and hammer out a compromise.