BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- A state commission is looking for ways to find forty million dollars in new revenues or to cut forty million dollars in spending. One option it is considering, imposing a sales tax on so-called "amusements" everything from haircuts to concert tickets.In Bangor residents are keeping a close eye on the possibility since the Queen City's growth is so closely connected to the Waterfront Concert series.
Alex Grey with the Waterfront Concerts said, "My first reaction was they are basically going to take a business that is just getting going, not necessarily ours as a whole, I think entertainment in Maine if you look at the Cross Center just opening, Cumberland county civic center being renovated, Waterfront Pavilion a year in. We've obviously had entertainment in Maine for years but the amount of entertainment than we have had but not to the caliber of entertainment that we have had. It's still very much in its infancy."
The concert series generates a substantial amount of money and arecoming off one of their most successful years ever. Although the official numbers have not been releasedyet, past studies showed the concert series brought an average of $10 million a year.
Supporters of the concerts and the growing arts scene say an additional tax on entertainment would hurt Bangor's economy.
Gray said, "If the legislature were to look at it they would see that really what they would do if we were to lose a certain number of shows per year they would actually be going backwards...Maine is on the move in respects to the arts. You see venues renovating."
Members of the committee made up of both state lawmakers and civilians need to find some way to cut spending or earn it somewhere else or the residents will be penalized.
Representative Adam Goode (D) of Bangor said, "We talked about a lot of different options. Many of which might close corporate tax loopholes or scaling back big business tax breaks in order to prevent more property tax hikes for maine families. I think that's something this group is focused on."
Goode who serves as co-chair of the committee stressed that nothing is finalized and the amusements tax was one of many options.
A final recommendation will be ready on Monday. It will be presented to other lawmakers and the governor to see what would be the best approach.