Greenville serves as model for Troy theater tax plan

Published 3:00 am Thursday, May 4, 2017

In reviewing options for a movie ticket surcharge, Troy city officials have pointed to a similar agreement in Greenville as a possible model to follow.

That ordinance, passed in 2007, helped Greenville officials recruit a movie theater to town by charging a $1 per ticket surcharge and refunding it directly to the theater, as well as deferring local sales tax on tickets and concessions.

“We have a $6 million movie theater now and we used to not have anything at all,” said Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon. “Movie theaters are extremely important for quality of life, especially for teenagers not to be on the road back and forth to Montgomery.”

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Greenville’s ordinance and project agreement allowed for the surcharge to be passed on to movie theater owners for seven years, as well as for a seven-year abatement on local sales tax. It also provided for city-founded construction of a new street and city-funded billboard advertising of the project for the first year.

McLendon said for his city, the project was all about giving the theater an incentive so that the community would have a better quality of life.

“You use incentives to get businesses in for economic development,” McLendon said. “This is a way to use incentives to improve quality of life …  The things we do, we do to give the city a better quality of life. It’s been successful. If I had it to do over again, I would.”

Just which parts of the Greenville agreement would be adapted for Troy remain unclear.

City officials last week announced they are working on an ordinance that would add a surcharge to tickets at Continental Cinemas to help the business achieve its planned expansion, but the details of the ordinance have not been made public yet.

Continental Cinemas announced plans last summer to transform its current facility into an entertainment complex that would include a bowling alley, restaurant and luxury theater.

Continental owner Chase Taylor said the tax would be collected by the city and the theater would get 100 percent of that back. “So if the city collects a dollar, we’ll get all of that back,” Taylor said. “We’re raising prices with this renovation anyway and this will go to that. There are other theaters in smaller cities like this that do this as well. It’s a way the city can help things move along.”

Another potential difference between Troy and Greenville relates to the surcharge. In discussing the concept. Troy Mayor Jason Reeves only mentioned the collection of the surcharge and return to the theater and called the move “revenue neutral” for the city. Greenville, however, began receiving 25 percent of the surcharge after the theater’s first seven years in operation.

Continental owner Chase Taylor is expected to speak to the council further about the issue at Tuesday’s city council meeting. The executive committee will meet at 4 p.m. upstairs in City Hall and the regular council meeting will follow at 5 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.