Anaheim City Council debates Disneyland tax exemption

Wednesday, July 8, 2015
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Disney is seeking to invest at least $1 billion dollars into extra parking and new attractions at Disneyland Resort in exchange for a tax break.

ANAHEIM, Calif. (KABC) -- Disney is seeking to invest at least $1 billion dollars into extra parking and new attractions at Disneyland Resort in exchange for a tax break.

Anaheim City Council convened Tuesday to discuss the proposal that would extend an entertainment tax exemption for Disney that has been in place since 1996 for another 30 years.

"We're not going to tax our residents and visitors. If future councils decide to do that, then that tax will be returned to the Disneyland corporation, because they're the ones making the billion-plus dollar investment in our city," Anaheim City Councilwoman Kris Murray said.

About 70 people signed up to speak at the meeting, many in support of Disney not having to pay the tax. Supporters say Disneyland is a huge draw for tourists and the county would benefit from the company's billion-dollar investment. Those opposed to the resolution, however, see it as Disney getting off the hook for decades to come.

Disneyland Resort President Michael Colglazier said in a statement: "We are asking city leaders to continue with a policy set two decades ago that has driven unprecedented job creation, growth, and prosperity, and enabled the city to invest in vital services that benefit every Anaheim resident."

Disney says it's doubled its workforce since 1996, employing nearly 30,000 people. According to an independent economic study, a $1 billion dollar investment could mean at least 3,000 more jobs and nearly $18 million a year in additional hotel stays and sales tax revenue for the city.

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait worries extending the tax exemption for Disney takes away residents' rights to vote for a tax if it's needed in the future. Anaheim has never had an entertainment tax.

"That doesn't mean that in 10 years from now there might not be a financial crisis in our city that requires a gate tax. The people have the right to decide whether they tax entertainment or not," Tait said.

The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of ABC7.