By Jamie Wiggan
After wrangling over amusement taxes accrued since the venue’s 2019 opening, owners of the Roxian Theatre have reached an agreement with the borough that will end the dispute.
Council voted during a special meeting Oct. 19 to accept a $90,000 payment from Roxian Live, LLC to clear the theater operators of all outstanding tax obligations.
Before presenting the motion, Archie Brinza, council president, said the borough could either take the money offered or pursue compensation through the courts.
Members voted 8-1 to accept the agreement, with Councilmember Nick Radoycis objecting.
Radoycis said his dissent stemmed from having to accept figures provided by the Roxian in calculating the terms of the agreement.
The theater operators began receiving monthly amusement tax bills from the borough shortly after opening in May 2019, but did not pay any during the approximately 10 months before it shut down for more than a year in March 2020 because of COVID-19.
In their defense, the owners maintain they were told by borough officials prior to the opening they would not be required to pay amusement taxes. They were however unable at any point to demonstrate this in writing.
The borough first adopted an amusement tax ordinance in the 1970s but has reportedly only enforced it sporadically in recent years. Council voted in September 2020 to reduce the rate to 5% moving forward.
New theatre operators Live Nation have reportedly been paying the modified rate since reopening in late summer.
Disputes still remained about taxes owed prior to the rate reduction, with negotiations stretching over several months before the final figure was adopted by council.
Brinza said the borough’s acceptance clears Roxian Live of any debts owed.
“The Roxian has fulfilled their tax obligations to McKees Rocks,” he said.
Road crew hire
During a regular monthly meeting held Oct. 12, Council voted 7-1 to hire Jamie Waugh as a new street department worker, following the termination of a previous employee in September.
Council withdrew for a lengthy executive session to discuss the candidates during the meeting.
No discussion ensued in public before or after the vote.
Vice President Leslie Walker departed the executive session before the members returned to cast their votes. Councilmember Nick Radoycis opposed the hiring. Councilmember Sarah Harvey was absent.
In other borough news:
• Council authorized borough staff to purchase a used vehicle for the code enforcement at a price not exceeding $21,300. Brinza said the current vehicle was in poor condition and urgently needed to be replaced.
• Council also authorized administration to spend $5,100 on office furniture.