Disney seeks continued tax exemption from Anaheim, California

Mon Jul 6, 2015 7:38pm EDT
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The "happiest place on Earth" will keep a special tax exemption in Anaheim, California, for 30 more years if the City Council approves the Walt Disney Co's plan for a $1 billion-plus expansion of its theme park complex in the city.

The five-member council is expected to vote on Tuesday on the company's proposal to go ahead with its Disneyland Resort makeover in exchange for a continued waiver of any future admission tax the city might impose on entertainment venues.

The resort's current exemption was granted by the city in 1996 and is due to expire on June 30, 2016.

No entertainment gate tax has ever been levied by the city of Anaheim, but an extension of Disney's special waiver would reimburse the company for any such taxes imposed during the next three decades, municipal spokeswoman Ruth Ruiz said.

Disney and its supporters say the exemption is merited because of the huge economic benefit Anaheim derives from the resort, which is the largest employer in the city and Orange County as a whole, accounting for 28,000 local jobs.

"Anaheim has been an economic success story thanks to its policies and initiatives that allow businesses to invest and thrive," Disneyland Resort President Michael Colglazier said in a statement.

But Mayor Tom Tait, a City Council member who backed the original tax exemption, has gone on record opposing the plan to renew it, citing an estimated $500 million in unfunded pension obligations now faced by the city.

"Chaining the hands of future residents on their ability to impose taxes will jeopardize the city's financial health," he was quoted as saying in the Orange County Register.   Continued...

People watch "World of Color - Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney" during Disneyland Diamond Celebration in Anaheim, California May 22, 2015. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni