Higher tax proposed on Colts, Pacers tickets, rental cars to shore up city budget

Proposal headed to committee

INDIANAPOLIS - City leaders have tentatively agreed on increasing visitor and entertainment taxes.

If the measure passes, Colts and Pacers tickets would cost more, and renting a car in Indianapolis would also get more expensive.

Charlie Mullen, who heads up ACE Rent a Car headquartered in Indianapolis, said a 2 percent hike in the county rental car tax would bring the total tax to 17 percent.

"There are many people in Marion County that rent cars for vacation, they rent vans for vacation. Their cars break down, they need a replacement car. All those people will pay more," Mullen said.

Mullen thinks the proposed hike will impact his bottom line.

"The sad thing is, I think it's the rental car fiscal cliff already," Mullen said. "It's already 15 percent tax in the city, and this would take it to 17. It's at the tipping point."

Under the agreement between the mayor and council leaders, consumers would pay 4 percent more in taxes for all Capital Improvement Board venues. That means the cost of Colts and Pacers tickets would increase.

"You're talking about a couple of dollars here and there in terms of the average cost of these items," said Marc Lotter, a spokesman for Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard.

Lotter says the money will go to support the CIB budget and to offset the cost of public safety.

"Prior to this agreement, we had a $35 million budget deficit for 2014 and virtually nothing in the city's savings accounts. That would have required massive cuts," he said.

The tax increase would also impact visitors to the city. A study by the Global Business Travel Association shows that Indianapolis ranks number eight in terms of cities where travelers incur in the highest total tax burden.

"We still feel very confident that, no matter if this tax goes up or down, that Indianapolis is a value-added destination that's incredibly affordable," said Chris Gahl, with Visit Indy.

The proposed hikes are headed to council committee. There will likely be a vote as early as the end of the month.

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