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County leaders seek tax change from state legislature to help out struggling Memorial Coliseum

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Allen County govt. leaders are seeking a tax revision that could funnel money to the Memorial Coliseum to pay for operating expenses during the pandemic.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - Allen County government leaders are hoping state lawmakers help the War Memorial Coliseum survive a big financial hit from the pandemic.

We're not talking about a tax hike.

Instead, a request, if granted, would permit the county to keep taxes it is already generating, rather than sharing a portion with the state.

Many events at the Coliseum have been canceled since March, everything from athletic contests, to concerts and conventions, drying up revenue for the operation.

In 2020, county council approved turning over more than $3-million to the Coliseum to help the complex with losses due to COVID-19.

But county council and the Allen County Commissioners have now passed a resolution, urging state lawmakers to allow one hundred percent of sales and income taxes collected from a special taxing district connected to the Coliseum to be kept in town, rather than having to forfeit a portion of that amount to the state capital.

It would add about $1-million per year for the Coliseum's budget.

Local leaders want to be able to use around $1.5-million per year for operating expenses to run the building.

Right now, managers of the facility can only use the tax monies for things like replacing a roof or renovating physical spaces like bathrooms or concession areas.

"We're asking the state to release the restrictions on some of those funds, right now those funds can only be used for capital expenses. That doesn't help keep the lights on and pay the bills in the middle of a pandemic, so we're asking the state legislature to change the law," said Allen County Council President Kyle Kerley.

"Last year we lost a little bit over $3-million. This wouldn't cover the entire loss, but it would certainly help us for times when unexpected things happen," said Memorial Coliseum General Manager Randy Brown.

Will the legislature be willing to give up a portion of tax revenues it has been receiving from Allen County as part of this campaign?

That question should be answered when a bill pertaining to this issue comes up for a vote at the Statehouse during this session of the Indiana General Assembly.

Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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