Attempt to get Columbus ticket tax on the ballot falls short

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Opponents of Columbus’ ticket tax came up short on collecting enough signatures to put a ballot measure in front of Columbus voters on Nov. 5.

The amendment would have eliminated any tax or fee on tickets for arts and entertainment events in Columbus.

Representatives from the group, Advocates for Responsible Taxation, submitted 22,000 signatures on a petition opposing the new ticket tax to city hall on July 8.

The ticket tax, which added a five percent increase in the price to certain entertainment and sporting events across Columbus, went into effect July 1.

The Franklin County Board of Elections said Tuesday the group did not collect enough valid signatures to place the issue before city voters this election day.

The election board said Advocates for Responsible Taxation 22,095 signatures, but the board was only able to validate 10,746 of them, setting the group short of the 11,030 valid signatures needed.

Ben Frech, the spokesperson for Advocates for Responsible Taxation, said in a statement:

“While we are disappointed with the Board of Elections not verifying our petitions, we remain encouraged. We worked with one of the leading signature acquisition firms in the country and will continue our work with them to remedy this situation immediately.

The over 18,000 people who signed our petitions did so to repeal the tax. And, while some of their addresses may not have been up to date at the Board of Elections, that does not discount their opposition to this tax.

Thankfully, our contract with our partner requires them to secure the needed number of signatures to place the issue on the ballot. Our commitment to void this irresponsible tax has not waned and we will continue to pursue a ballot position in the near future.”

Lisa Griffin, spokesperson for Protect Art 4 Columbus, said supporters of the city’s ticket tax are relieved the petition failed.

“We are relieved, but on the other hand, we are not surprised,” Griffin said. “We believe the majority of citizens in Columbus believe that this is a fair user fee, and they want it to be used to fund arts for children and families throughout Columbus regardless of their zip code.”

According to a spokesperson for city attorney Zach Klein, the board of elections sent a letter to the clerk of the Columbus City Council regarding the petition. The city attorney’s office will make the final determination and a recommendation to city council on whether the petition is legally sufficient.

The group would need to start fresh and collect the required 11,030 signatures by August 7 in order to get the measure on the November ballot.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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