Brookfield Zoo Fights Amusement Tax

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Zoo's financial VP Ken Kaduk says tax would hurt the zoo. (Published Tuesday, Jun 29, 2010)

    A proposed tax on amusements in Brookfield has been tabled after a vocal outcry from supporters of the Chicago Zoological Society who fear the tax would have a negative impact on attendance and spending at the zoo.

    The village had looked at that tapping the Brookfield Zoo to raise $500,000 or more each year, but Village Manager Riccardo Ginex said the rhetoric about the amusement tax issue got out of hand and the issue was stricken during Monday night's public meeting.

    Supporters of the zoo turned out en masse -- reported numbers ranged from 125 to 200 people -- in opposition of the proposed tax.

    Ginex said the amusement tax is still on the table, but said the village is now having closed door discussions with the zoo concerning alternatives. He would not specify what those alternative funding measures might be.

    One of those meetings happened Monday and more are expected in the next few weeks. Ginex said the the village does get sales tax from the Zoo, but only from the 75 percent of the zoo that sits in the village.

    Brookfield Zoo's senior vice president for finance and administration, Ken Kaduk, said the organization is opposed to any sort of amusement tax and confirmed that the CZS is working with the village to find alternatives.

    Besides the sales tax, Kaduk said the Zoo also gives the village funds through a water tax.  Kaduk also said that ticket prices for the zoo were raised by $1 at the start of this year.

    Under Illinois law, municipalities can levy an "amusement tax" up to three percent of gross revenues. 

    However, Brookfield's proposed law also states that such a tax would not extend to activities that are "instructional in nature and constitute lessons or classes," the Riverside/Brookfield Landmark clarified.  Kaduk declined to say whether the CZS would challenge the tax on those grounds.

    The amusement tax is just one in a series the village is considering, including a hotel-motel tax, a food and beverage tax, a utility tax, increases in garbage and business licensing fees, and a referendum on property taxes to fund recreation and public safety, the Chicago Tribune reported.