Buffalo Venues Call Proposed Ticket Surcharge an “Illegal Tax” Buffalo Venues Call Proposed Ticket Surcharge an “Illegal Tax”
The proprietors of several large venues in Buffalo, NY are fighting back against a proposed ticket surcharge, calling the measure a tax which the... Buffalo Venues Call Proposed Ticket Surcharge an “Illegal Tax”

The proprietors of several large venues in Buffalo, NY are fighting back against a proposed ticket surcharge, calling the measure a tax which the city has no authority to levy. The fees, proposed by Mayor Byron W. Brown, would range from 50 cents to $3.50 and would be added to the prices of tickets at five events in the city – Coca-Cola Field, KeyBank Center, Kleinhans Music Hall, Shea’s Performing Arts Center, and Canalside.

Mayor Brown says the additional fees will help the city cover the cost of providing maintenance and security for the large venues, according to the Buffalo News. Lawyers representing the five venues argue the surcharge is a tax, which would have to be authorized by New York State before the city could implement.

“It fails as a matter of law,” they wrote in a document filed with the city. “Municipalities have no inherent taxing power. They may only tax to the extent the state delegates them power to do so.”

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The two sides are meeting to work through the issues, according to the news. Mayor Brown indicated in May when he proposed the fees that they could generate an additional $2 million for the city annually. Venue operators would collect the fees, which would be deposited in a “Public Facility, Sports, Theater and Artistic Fund.”

As proposed, the fees would be

  • 50 cents for tickets with face value of $10.01 to $25.
  • $1.50 for tickets with face value of $25.01 to $50.
  • $2.50 for tickets with face value of $50.01 to $75.
  • $3.50 for tickets with face value of $75.01 and above.

According to the mayor, the surcharge would help cover the costs of training for emergency responders and overtime needed to ensure the safety of ticket holders. The surcharge also would cover the costs of police patrols, traffic control, infrastructure in the surrounding areas and capital maintenance of the buildings. It would also cover services provided in the vicinity of the venues, such as bringing in extra crews to plow snow to make sure streets around the buildings are safe and passable.

City residents would be eligible for refunds on the fees, but the process for obtaining a refund has not yet been determined.

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