Entertainment venues in York City likely won't be jumping for joy if officials start collecting an amusement tax, as it appears they intend to do.

But there are more onerous ways the cash-strapped city could tap businesses' customers, such as extending parking meter hours late on Fridays and Saturdays.

That idea was tossed around a few years back, but eventually was rejected over fears people wouldn't venture downtown if they had to continually feed a meter and risk getting a ticket.

Both extending meter hours and enforcing the amusement tax were considered in 2006 after a consultant predicted a budget deficit of at least $4.9 million by 2010 if York did not increase revenue and cut expenses.

Ah, the good old days.

Since then, a new consultant released another report in 2011 warning of a $50 million deficit by 2016 without drastic measures.

Among those measures?

Increase revenue and cut expenses.

It might be time city officials start listening to their consultants.

The gist is this: York is in serious, long-term financial trouble that property taxes alone can't fix -- especially since nearly 40 percent of its property is tax-exempt.

After a 17 percent tax increase last year and an 11 percent hike the year before, the city's 2013 budget includes no new property taxes.

But it does call for $150,000 in revenue from a 5 percent amusement tax, which has been on the books for many years but has never been collected.


It would apply to venues such as the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center and Sovereign Bank Stadium, as well as the York City Ice Arena, the roller rink and any bar that charges a cover at the door.

That would be an extra $4 for an $80 ticket to a show at the Strand or 50 cents more for a $10 dollar seat at a ball game.

It's doubtful the tax would make a difference to customers: Fifty cents is literally pocket change, and if someone can afford an $80 ticket, what's a few dollars more?

Other Pennsylvania cities levy it, and business hasn't suffered. Harrisburg collects it, and its nightlife is fairly booming.

York business administrator Michael O'Rourke said the city will be working over the next few months to identify which venues will be affected by the tax and establishing collection reporting forms and a schedule.

The key will be to keep it simple for both the businesses and city administrators.

York can certainly use an extra $150,000, but it might not be worth it if it takes too much time and money to collect.

It needs to try, though.

York doesn't have a whole lot of other options.