Gurnee raises hotel, amusement taxes

  • Come May 1, a ticket to Six Flags Great America and the other attractions in Gurnee will cost more. The village board on Monday raised the amusement tax to 4 percent.

      Come May 1, a ticket to Six Flags Great America and the other attractions in Gurnee will cost more. The village board on Monday raised the amusement tax to 4 percent. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer, 2017

 
 
Posted3/6/2018 5:33 AM

It will cost a little more to spend a day at Six Flags Great America or stay the night at a Gurnee hotel starting in May.

The village board on Monday night voted unanimously to increase the amusement tax to 4 percent from 3 percent and the hotel tax to 6 percent from 5 percent.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The increases, which were first discussed in public in January, are expected to generate about $1 million in extra revenue.

The plan also calls for about $300,000 of the new revenue to be set aside for economic development incentives for incoming companies.

"Our primary objective is to maintain our commercial and amusement corridor, and to do that we have to be able to invest in incentives," Mayor Kristina Kovarik said Monday night after the vote. "This is a way to do it without putting the burden on residents."

Kovarik said the amusement tax hadn't been changed in more than 20 years. Last year, Six Flags Great America accounted for $2 million of the $2.3 million in revenue generated by the amusement tax.

Representatives from Six Flags Great America did not return calls for comment Monday on the tax hike.

The second-most money came from the Marcus Gurnee Mills Cinema, followed by Bittersweet Golf Club and the 60 to Escape escape room at Gurnee Mills.

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Village Administrator Patrick Muetz said the hotel tax hadn't been adjusted in more than 30 years. At 6 percent. the village's hotel tax is now in the same ballpark as other nearby villages' and less than the rate Wisconsin municipalities like Racine and Kenosha charge, which is about 8 percent.

Kovarik said it is hard to say whether the board would have pursued these tax increases if the village's sales tax revenue were higher.

Sales taxes are of particular importance to Gurnee because it does not levy property taxes for village services. About 45 percent of the village's general fund revenue comes from sales taxes.

"I think we're doing a really good job to be maintaining our sales tax where it is and not losing like other communities," Kovarik said.

The tax increases will go into effect on May 1.

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