In case you missed it, the University is considering if a recent court ruling would mean it could be exempt from the city’s admissions and amusement tax. The tax is charged on admission to intercollegiate athletic events at the school and accounts for as much as $550,000 a year in tax revenue for the city… making up a significant chunk of the city’s annual $13.3 million budget.
One of the founding visions of Rethink College Park is to bridge the divide between the City and the University. Were this money to be diverted from city coffers and not replaced with a comparable funding stream, we feel this action would deal a devastating blow to already tenuous City-University relations. Such skulduggery on the University’s part has no place in College Park…. especially at a time when UMD is trying to pick up the pieces of East Campus and needs the cooperation of local officials more than ever.
Instead of trying to build a bubble around itself, UMD needs to embrace its shared destiny with the City. This latest development is nearly as foolish as Dr. Mote’s 2006 letter to Maryland DOT supporting Route 1 reconstruction only where it crosses University property. It’s a narrow-minded mentality that fails to recognize that College Park’s prosperity and future are inextricably linked with the University’s own vision to be a top ten public university. East Campus is a good start but that development alone will not be enough to unblight Route 1 and transform the city into a national model for smart growth. Realizing that vision will take a level of mutual trust and mutual respect between the City and University that we have yet to see.
From a Diamondback editorial on this latest UMD move:
With congested traffic and decrepit liquor stores, College Park is far from paradise. However, if university officials get their way, things could get much worse…………
Although we generally support efforts by university officials to save hundreds of thousands of dollars, trying to become exempt from the amusement tax would be insulting to the city and short-sighted.