Knox County considers eliminating Amusement Tax

Knoxville, TN - November 18, 2012: Dave Hart during a press conference at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Wade Rackley/Tennessee Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- It's a tax that started in 1947 that's lasted for nearly seven decades.
Now the Knox County government thinks it's time to shut it down, but Knoxville says it's vital to keeping the University of Tennessee safe.

Monday, the Knox County Commission passed a resolution that will lead to ending the Amusement Tax, revenue that they receive from area events, the bulk of which comes from Volunteer football and basketball games. For every ticket sold, Knoxville and Knox County receive a combined five percent.

UT Athletic Director Dave Hart approved the council's vote.

"We are appreciative of Mayor Tim Burchett and the Knox County Commission for their willingness to take action toward repealing the county’s portion of this targeted tax," Hart said in a statement.

Tennessee is the only school in the SEC that pays for such a tax. Cutting any portion of the Amusement Tax will not lower ticket prices. Instead, UT plans to take the money saved and reinvest it in UT facilities and ways to improve the Volunteer game day experience for fans.

Mayor Burchett's office said their portion of the tax generates around $225,000 per year, money that goes towards maintaining area parks.
Officials said they'll be able to replace the lost revenues through natural growth.

The City of Knoxville receives a bulk of tax, around 4.5 percent, with Knox County receiving the rest. Over the past decade, according to figures from Local 8 Sports media partner, the University of Tennessee Athletic Department has paid around $13 million to both governments, and would pay around $16 million over the next decade.

To put that in perspective, one home UT football game generates around $20 million for East Tennessee according to Senior Writer John Brice.

City of Knoxville officials said they plan to keep their portion of the Amusement Tax. They said, not only does this money help to supplement city employees needed for UT game days, it also funds projects around the campus area, as well as helping fund police and fire crews that protect campus year round.

Knox County's plane would phase out the Amusement Tax over a two-year period.

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